The vast majority of us are taught from an early age to ‘be good’. Rewards of all types are heaped upon us if we play nicely, smile sweetly, and do as we are told by authority figures of all shapes and sizes. As the family ‘good girl’ I know what that looks like – constantly having to live up to just the ‘nice’ part of who we are.
Undoubtedly it enabled me to access some great qualities but equally, it meant that some of the less attractive parts of myself were not acknowledged or ‘seen’. Except of course they were, when they escaped beyond my carefully-developed and reinforced boundaries and strategies, or were sensed by people who had more intuitive and sensing capability. For sure until I actively started asking the inner questions, they weren’t seen by me.
So what’s that got to do with leadership. Well like all things ‘leadership’ it’s really about life and human nature. Unless we are prepared to see all that exists within our system, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright evil, we are never really fully accessing our true compassion and love. We are still in danger of ‘playing’ at being good or nice or caring. This compromises our ability to truly lead.
I can imagine for many this all seems like a ridiculous thing to say. Surely good people and nice people are exactly that and just what our world needs, especially at a time when much horror and devastation is evident in humanity’s behaviour.
But that’s exactly the point. Constantly denying the presence of ‘evil’ or the ugly things that we are capable of, compromises our ability to move to a true, conscious flow of goodness and love. And we all know that the best leaders are underpinned by a real and steady flow of love.
When we open ourselves to truly seeing the things we are capable of and that sit deep within our own psyche and personality it can feel scary – after all remember we are conditioned to move only toward being good. What if by looking at the less attractive stuff we become identified with it and ‘become’ it? Of course, that risk is there which is what makes this a courageous act and therefore an act of leadership.
We’re not hiding parts of ourselves in the shadows.
Choosing to see and own, for example, our lack of respect for someone, our sense of our own self-importance, entitlement or superiority, or our selfishness – the list, of course, is endless – opens us to a level of liberation that means the aspects of ourselves that truly are moving toward ‘good’ are doing so authentically and powerfully. We’re not hiding parts of ourselves in the shadows. It doesn’t mean we have to act them out – quite the reverse. In fact, we are more able to dig into our hearts and consciously focus on compassion for ourselves and the others who may unwittingly trigger the less attractive responses.
If this feels heavy or like hard work, welcome to the club. True leadership is more than our intellect or our technical capabilities – it demands our hearts and for those to be fully functioning we need to clean house…daily.