Searching for answers?
Always thinking the answer lies out there?
Or maybe the problem is out there with that person, that thing, or that situation that is out of your control?
It’s something that as a Leadership Coach and Mentor that I hear a lot, and also used to believe.
Until that day.
That day when something happened that shifted my awareness.
As if the earth had suddenly adjusted its tilt and life as I knew it would never be the same again!
It came in different waves, but the three most CRITICAL and CONFRONTING conversations that challenged my thinking and leadership were:
#1 – “You’ve got what you wanted.” If it’s not what you want, then you need to change something.
#2 – “If it’s not working, YOU need to make a change.”
#3 – And lastly, as an entrepreneur “For every struggling artist, author or musician, there’s another who’s booming.” They aren’t necessarily more talented than you – they are just doing something different to you.
Now each of these conversations came at different moments, but the first two in particular acted as a catalyst and springboard to going within and challenging the very assumptions I was living and leading my life on. They challenged me to identify where I was playing a victim and doing the ‘blame game’ versus taking responsibility for my part in what I had created.
They went to the core to challenge what was hidden or unconscious. Things like habitual thinking patterns and beliefs that run on autopilot until confronted to their validity and relevance.
I remember the moment when my team had become ‘dysfunctional’, and I recall not only how it was showing up in our culture but also the impact across the whole department. It was an eye-opening moment of truth when the penny dropped, and I realised this was my fault. What I was doing (or not doing as the case might be), and who I was BEING had all led to the creation this situation.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking for something externally to solve our problems which negates taking ownership and responsibility. You see the problem was never ‘out’ there but rather it was ‘in’ here – in me; the way I was thinking and feeling which led to what I was then doing and the results I was creating.
Self-awareness is so important in life and as a conscious leader. One of my favourite models for exploring self-awareness is the Johari Model – this was created by two psychologists, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. I first came across this when I was in my 20’s as a young leader – it is as relevant now as it was then.
The Johari Model is a simple four box matrix which identifies:
- things you know about yourself,
- things that others know about you, and
- things both you and others don’t know about yourself – this is where your ultimate potential lies.
There are also things we don’t know that others do. We all know we have ‘blind spots’, and this model helps us to see that. So, in order to grow, we need others to share with us what we don’t see, and we get that by being brave and inviting feedback.
Equally, we all have things that we choose not to share and thus remain ‘hidden’ from others. This quadrant is where our vulnerability resides and so when we choose to share more of ourselves with others, it opens the door to building trust and also sharing in our common humanity. It’s a place where we expand our connection with others.
The last quadrant is the one that has our ‘unknown’ potential which is neither known to us or others. I believe this is where our greatest untapped potential sits and it is revealed when we do inner work including meditation and mindfulness that connects us beyond our personality to our deeper truest self – our soul.
I believe each quadrant requires courage, curiosity and an openness to exploring the gifts that help us to heal inner wounds and to expedite our personal growth to be conscious and not asleep at the wheel.
Leaders cannot be leaders without others, and I often think that when we are in leadership roles, we do our learning under the spotlight of many eyes watching our every move. While we will make mistakes, this should be welcomed as it means we are learning something. If we take the time to reflect on our learnings, we become more self-aware and thus more conscious of our choices, decisions and impact on the world we are creating.
It’s time to stop doubting yourself and your abilities. Stop putting things off and striving for perfectionism; start creating the future you truly desire instead. Learn how to listen to your spirit and fearlessly lead the way. Own your self-worth and the unique difference you make. Rise up to be seen and respected for who you truly are!
It all starts with self awareness.
Joanne Hutchinson MBA
Joanne (Jo) Hutchinson MBA is a Conscious Leadership Coach, Mentor and Facilitator. She helps women own their power to become authentic leaders, realise their hidden potential to fulfill and create conscious businesses, that serve the greater good.
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Great Spirit – it’s a way of being.