Recently, I worked with a client who was having a tough time managing a complex set of projects. He was sharp at the technical aspects of his job, but in over his head as a leader. He knew it, it was also apparent to others, but he had a difficult time admitting it. As a result, he had very little access to the knowledge and wisdom he needed to get past it. He couldn’t actively seek help for something he couldn’t acknowledge – moreover no one really wanted to help (or could help) a guy who didn’t want it. Then he finally got honest with himself (and others) about his struggle – and went through a rapid transformation in a matter of 6 months. He reflected some months later, “Everything I needed was right in front of me, I just needed to let it in. Paradoxically, humility was my access to power.”
Whenever you feel a loss of power and effectiveness if your life – a.k.a. stuck – there’s a good chance it’s because you’re not being honest with yourself. Meaning there’s a good chance you’re not acknowledging your true feelings – your fears, struggles, confusion, hopes & dreams. Now you’re probably not doing it for a lot of good reasons. That sort of honesty can be uncomfortable. Even worse, it can feel like it will lead to a total loss of control – and become a big mess. So you avoid it. But you lose something important in the process – you.
1. Recognize when you’re feeling a loss of power in your life (it often feels like a vague sense of anxiety you can’t get past).
2. Finish the following sentences 10 times. I fear that…
3. Try to cut deeper each time, uncovering your uncomfortable thoughts/feelings.
4. Don’t judge the feelings – just feel them – and accept them as “what so” for you.
5. Repeat this whenever you feel the anxiety.
6. Fairly quickly, you’ll notice your capacity for being truly honest with yourself will improve – and so will your experience of life.
“Almost any difficulty will move in the face
of honesty. When I am honest with myself, I never feel stupid. And when
I am honest with myself, I am automatically humble.”
— Hugh Prather (1938- ) American writer, from his book Standing on My Head.
Doug Sundheim is an executive coach & consultant based in NYC – www.dougsundheim.com