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Confronting The Ghosts

Confronting the Ghosts

Posted on January 31st, 2014 | Categories: Authentic Leadership, Uncategorized

“You can’t think one way and feel another and expect anything in your life to change . . . When we memorize addictive emotional states such as guilt, shame, anger, fear, anxiety, judgment, depression, self-importance or hatred, we develop a gap between the way we appear and the way we really are.”

- From Joe Dispenza, D.C., Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, New York, Hay House, Inc., 2012

One of the most pervasive blockages we see in working with CEOs, senior executives and business owners is when the client has come up against what appears to us—and to the client him or herself—as a “brick wall.”

When this happens, the client feels stuck and becomes frustrated.

What we hear when the brick wall looms is often something like this: “We’ve been around this broken record now for (weeks, months, years . . . you name it), and nothing has changed! I’m tired of this!” The client is adamant in pointing out the source of the problem in others. Everyone else is to blame. Even us. Feeling she or he has reached a point of maximum pain, it seems the easiest option is to abandon the process. At least, as some indicate when they’ve reached that point, it would make the pain go away.

But we know—and, deep down, so do they—it won’t go away for long.

Upon reaching the brick wall, it is our job to produce a mirror and hold it up so the client can take a good look . . . without fear of being judged or berated. This is not a graded event. It is more than that. It is a life event.

Executive and professional clients are very bright. They have not arrived at roles of significant responsibility because they are mediocre. They know their businesses and industries. They work hard. But . . .

As we mature, we bring with us theories, dogma, ideologies and internal “movies” and “sound bites” we obtain along the way. Just think of all the people and events that have influenced you!

Some of these internal movies and sound bites come from parents. Some come from teachers. Some come from spouses, ex-spouses or significant others. Some come from friends. Some come from adversaries. Some come from negative – or even traumatic – experiences. Regardless of where they come from, they become our underlying beliefs.

Now, some of this stuff is helpful and guides as us positively. However, some of this stuff is very unhelpful, and it can derail and harm us incredibly.

We subconsciously hold these underlying beliefs to be our truths. We measure what we take in from the outside world against them. In essence, these underlying beliefs and the fears we develop around them become our ghosts. And we allow these ghosts to control us.

Until things go wrong, or we get a wake up call.

In executive life, so often men and women find the very traits and behaviors that helped propel them to their leadership roles are no longer working. Where once command-and-control was effective, they find resistance rampant among their leadership teams. Perhaps the organization is not performing as well as they – and investors or other key stakeholders – know it can. Perhaps pivotal partnerships are falling apart. Or there could be wake up calls of a more personal nature involving affairs, divorce, health issues or addictions. In either instance, it’s wake up call time (this can be known as a “trigger”).

Whatever the trigger, suddenly, the leader is confronted with the ghosts, without knowing what he or she is really up against. And, like trying to avoid what comes with an upset stomach, most people will go to great lengths to avoid confronting something that at the very least does not feel good, and at the very worst is downright frightening.

Getting to who we really are is the way to get unstuck. It is the way to become truly strong and effective leaders. It is about finding relief, and letting go of unnecessary stress and all its health-related risks.

Getting to who we really are requires confronting our ghosts. This takes courage, commitment, and determination.

In executive coaching and in therapeutic settings, one of the most significant services the practitioner can render is to create a safe environment for clients to:

Recognize the time has arrived to confront his or her ghosts
Help facilitate the confrontation in ways so the client arrives at positive strategies and pathways forward
Help the client as he or she evolves beyond underlying beliefs that do not serve him or her

When the ghosts are in control, leaders operate from places of fear, anxiety, blame and anger. Their messages are overwhelmingly diminished. Others strive to avoid them or passively sabotage them.

When leaders recognize the importance of coming to grips with their ghosts, and make concerted efforts to confront them, understand them, and let go of them, they evolve incredibly. Their communication with others becomes coherent and powerful. Their relationships thrive. They are operating authentically.

Think about yourself. Think of all the people and events that have influenced your life. Now, think about how those people and events have formed the underlying beliefs from which you operate. How many of them have become ghosts?

As a leader, it’s up to you to take the next step.



John P. Schreitmueller, PCC, ECP-BC, is CEO of Resolute Consulting Group LLC. The Atlanta based practice specializes in Executive, Leadership, Organizational, Developmental, Behavioral and Career coaching, counseling and consulting.

Copyright 2014 by Resolute Consulting Group LLC.

photo from FreeDigitalPhotos
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