I had an interesting conversation with David Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources at Marriott International, recently. He made me think.
All the time I spend executive coaching, what I’m really doing is helping people think. I am asking them provocative questions. Expanding their thinking. Challenging them. It’s also my role to support them when the thinking is hard, sometimes push them off the cliff of their limitations and then cushion their fall. The result is growth, and the result of growth is peak performance and an improved bottom line.
I thought that was a good thing.
But David showed me another perspective. He reminded me how hard it is to reflect. How unready sometimes leaders are to learn. He said,
Most people I find shy away from being introspective. Even if they have the capability they shy away from actually practicing introspection.
Knowing David to be a brilliant leader in the arena of leadership development, I was a little surprised. I thought leaders loved this stuff! Here’s what he said:
The times we’re living in today are tough. Everyone is under a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of uncertainty. A lot of emotional energy is devoted to coping with things outside our control. We can’t control the economy. We feel like victims. Everyone is trying desperately to stay calm and focused in the face of external pressures. This is supposition, but I think the average person does not look to add to the pressures they face. While introspection is great as a catalyst for growth and fundamental to growth, in essence what it really is is going to a zone of discomfort. It’s finding out things about yourself that may not make you feel in the moment good and in control. Especially in these times when people have such pressures, [reflection] could be a Pandora’s box.
And I suppose he’s right. When you open the lid to your potential, who knows what demons lurk inside, just waiting to jump out and grab you? Do you really have the energy to rally now, of all times, to fight the status quo? Can’t you just suffer through the challenges in peace?
Of course you can. Many do. I’ll admit that since David and I talked, I have met a few people who seem truly bedraggled by the impact of a negative economy. It would be cruel to unleash on them Pandora’s box.
Or would it? What I want you to remember it that practicing personal leadership is not just about facing your fears. It’s about finding your strength.
In Pandora’s box you may find old habits, destructive patterns, or hidden fears.
But you will also find a clear, inspiring vision of who you want to be.
You’ll find new focus on what you want to achieve.
You’ll find new strategies and tools for progress.
You’ll find fulfillment.
New ways of spending your time.
A stronger, smarter, more motivating team.
A whole new universe of learning and possibility.
You’re going to find yourself.
The Fifth Practice of Personal Leadership is Feel Fulfillment. I’ll admit that perhaps the process of getting there may present challenging questions, but those questions are the doorway to a satisfying life.
When you sit on the lid of Pandora’s box, you lock your real self inside. Go ahead. Open up.
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