Your brain is like a sponge. It takes in everything. Every sound you hear, sight you see, food you eat, everything you experience feeds directly into your brain. Normally, this is a good thing. We take in these experiences and we learn.
Angeles Arrien, an author, teacher, and anthropologist specializing in cross-cultural wisdom, summarized 13 different challenges that humans experience in their lives. These 13 states constitute the major challenges we face when moving through the growth stages. Interestingly enough, 6 of these states have to do with our way of thinking and state of mind.
What is unconsciousness? It is simply the state of non-awareness, of not knowing. In and of itself, it’s benign. It’s just a state of being.
Unconsciously, our bodies function in a timely, miraculous way. We breathe, our heart beats, our cells deliver needed information and goods and carry away waste. While our body does all of this without effort, our mind focuses on our survival by making sense of the incredible amount of sensory information around us. Harnessing unconsciousness is also a part of self-mastery. When we become incredibly competent at something, a new skill, habit, or way of thinking, it fades from our conscious mind into the quieter place of unconsciousness. We no longer need to focus our attention in order to activate it.
When the development of leaders through self-mastery became my passion, I realized that I needed to make some adjustments in my own life. It was time to expand my own leadership territory. After nearly a decade working with these various companies and individuals and finishing a master’s degree in organizational development and transformation, I needed a change.
Your leadership territory is indicated by the results you produce, the relationships you have, and your own level of satisfaction and well-being. Yet all these external indicators are just evidence of what you are generating internally. If you want to improve or increase your leadership power, you need to work on who you are as a person.
The shadow side of Linda was her attempts to adapt and please the new regime. She just didn’t agree with the new values being proposed for the company. The tension between what was being asked for and her own integrity started to create underlying stress. She became passive aggressive in her support for the new organization.
Stephen’s drive for discipline and control increased. He needed things to look right, be in order, and for appearances be perfect and spotless. The demands he placed on himself and those around him increased. There was little tolerance for errors or messes, either at work and home. He could not process everything that he was feeling inside, so he focused on the external instead. His shadow side.
Every country has its own culture, its own system of beliefs and values that make it unique. Even if two countries speak the same language, are in similar regions, and hold the same common values, there are still concrete differences between them.
Tristan’s initial success didn’t come without a price. Caught up in his ambition and drive, he began to think of himself as invincible. He sold himself and others on the story that he was the underdog. A street-smart, scrappy kid who would eventually ‘show them all’ that he was in fact a very successful alpha dog.
In the next few blogs, we will be examining the negative consequences of leader’s “shadow sides” that I have personally witnessed in my work as an executive coach. I’ve made them vague to protect each leaders’ identity, so names and industries have been altered. These are vivid examples of what can happen when one does not pay attention to the shadow side of your Archetypal Blueprint pattern.