I recently had a powerful dream. A bigger-than-life yellow snake was striking at me, baring its ominous teeth, snapping its jaws. Just when I thought my life was over, an enormous black snake appeared and attacked the yellow snake until it slithered away. This dream felt so real, so frightening that I kept reliving it, reflecting and unpacking it. I believe the yellow snake represents my Insecurity, and the black snake is my Audacity—my willingness to take bold risks.Read more
One morning in 9th grade I showed up to school and none of my five closest girlfriends would speak to me — they wouldn’t for the rest of the year. The following year, one of them finally broke the stand off. The first thing I asked her was, “Why? Why did you drop me so coldly?” Hers were simple teenager’s words: “You always took the best boys and left us the worst.” (more…)Read more
Emergence. A word filled with openness, possibilities, and novelty. I often witness it with teams I work with, and it is truly beautiful to see a group of people unlocking new ideas that will carry them a little further. The resulting burst of positive energy and motivation creates momentum and amazing outcomes. As a facilitator, it’s a real treat to be part of the process. (more…)Read more
While I’m not aware of my fears all the time, when facilitating groups, my “big fear” becomes very alive.
Will I be able to serve this group well? Will I be able to intervene when necessary? Or, will I fall into my habitual pattern and avoid getting messy? And so it goes, on and on, the inner voice of anxiety. (more…)Read more
I have been trying to find purpose and meaning in my life for a long time. Looking back, I would say at least since high school. What is it that we, and in particular I, am here for? What is it that will bring me passion and fill my heart? I searched for it in my Mechanical engineering studies and found bits and pieces. I also looked for it in during my MBA, but didn’t find too much there. (more…)Read more
As a psychologist and political scientist, I always felt drawn to two “acupuncture points”; engaging systemic structures and causes that give rise to deeply challenging societal conditions, and serving individuals in their own evolution into “being for life.” In my work right now I’m addressing both of these expressions through several new and exciting projects in societal development, conflict and negotiation? (more…)Read more
A few years ago, I was asked to work with the board of a housing co-op who were having issues around workload equity. Resentments were brewing because a few members had become burdened with the lion’s share of the work. Before our first meeting, I was warned about the board’s ‘problem child’: a longtime member who often derailed meeting agendas with her combative style and strong opinions. (more…)Read more
Great poetry and great leadership both have the capacity to open our hearts to the wild immediacy of this very moment. Both have the capacity to arrest our attention into startling contact with the aesthetic beauty and living truth of our shared being. Both have the capacity to create bridges that communicate information and meaning, and – beyond that – to transmit an ineffable aliveness that can touch our deepest longing.Read more
For those of us interested in adult development, too often we tend to focus on stages. In particular, we zoom in on those higher, more complex and seductive forms of maturity that presumably are waiting for us to discover their beauty, added power and desired relief. They reside “up there” in the heights of our preferred hierarchies.
For many of us, the experience of adulthood involves what I call “completion projects” in The Elegant Self. Completion projects are our unexamined drives to become (or appear) more whole and complete. Because they are unexamined, they are the unseen agendas that appear to have most of us. (more…)Read more
Authenticity is a popular topic that I frequently hear discussed in a number of different contexts. In personal growth, relationships, professional development, leadership and performance—authenticity shows up as a highly desired trait. This widely pursued aim is especially prized in hyper-individualistic cultures where every individual’s uniqueness is one of the unquestioned goals.
Whether you’re at home with your partner and your family, at dinner with friends, pursuing the next athletic win, or in the office leading and managing the next steps for organizational success, this idea of being more authentic, and the cultural preference to be authentic, often seduces us as “the way” we should or ought to be able to show up.
While being more authentic is a popular frame of reference for working on ourselves personally and professionally, most of us fail to clearly define it. It remains a nebulous, unexamined term that can, and often does, change.
In our drive to be more authentic we often are captured by two unexamined assumptions. Both of these assumptions are mistakes if we value adult development and growing new capabilities.
First: Authenticity is not the same as competence
The first assumption sees authenticity as some way of being that is more competent than you currently are. Unfortunately, authenticity and competence are not synonymous, although many of us would like them to be. (Authentic leadership is not necessarily more effective leadership, it’s just leadership that feels more “at home” to you.)Read more