Everyone has a story. Mike Rogers recently posted this link http://www.teamworkandleadership.com/2013/09/what-is-the-greatest-secret-to-more-empathy-absolutely-amazing-video.html?goback=%2Egsm_1937421_1_*2_*2_*2_lna_PENDING_*2#%21 for The Leadership Trust LinkedIn Group members. While this link speaks powerfully to current stories that greatly impact us as members of the human race, we all also have a story that began years ago in our childhood, a story that impacts not only how well we perform as leaders but also the quality of our personal and social relationships.
I find dysfunctional pleasers, bulldozers, and people struggling with intimacy issues in every workshop and teambuilding session. Although it’s that common, it doesn’t make it right for either the person described in these terms or for those whom they impact. In fact, my own “stuff” at various points in my life spanned all these issues. It was only through my doctoral studies in psychology that I immersed myself in some serious personal work that entailed revisiting my family-of-origin dynamics. In particular, those areas representing hurt, grief, fear, and sadness were the very ones that offered up the secret to unleashing my full human potential.
Growing up in an alcoholic family where my father exhibited intimidating behaviors, I learned two dysfunctional patterns: Dysfunctional pleasing and its antithesis. I engaged in either of the two at any given time depending upon what the situation seemed to mandate from me. Because of many other positive influences in my life (my faith, my mother, certain teachers, etc.), I was generally happy despite this tug of war going on inside of me. Then I entered the world of work, married and divorced, and returned to graduate school where I could no longer ignore these issues. So what did I do?
There is nothing magical about reliving the pain of yesteryear, however my growth came about only after I had experienced and thus identified the nature of my self-limiting beliefs that were housed within these painful emotions. I can now manage my stuff because I can recognize when it’s me and not them. Sure, there will always be people out there who can behave in ways acting as triggers to my stuff, but I’m basically mindful not to react out of automaticity but instead to respond out of choice. This means I must be mindful about living in the here and the now. If indeed I do that, I’m free from whatever prison my stuff would otherwise create. This freedom allows me to live authentically, and this kind of authenticity allows others to know who I am. Only then can trust ensue, which is at the heart of enduring leadership and loveship.
We will end this series with Part V, which will address maintenance issues such as staying the course and avoiding slip-ups. I will share from others’ wisdom as well as from my own mistakes. As always, I welcome hearing from you and learning from your own life stories.