Posts Tagged ‘Dilemmas of being in business’

I woke up from a dream this morning that made me question: “Really?” It was only the last few seconds of the dream that seemed so profound. It was a children’s choir – all boys, and they were singing a Christmas song. The only lyric I heard was:  “Gift me with my enemies and my ministers.” This is a pretty profound phrase, especially for a group of youngsters to be singing as a Christmas song.

My Enemies

My enemies infuse me with intense emotions – rage, hatred, vile condemnation and contempt. Judgments are automatic, so much so I don’t even know that I’m judging. How I respond, more often than not is a knee jerk reaction. I’m inflamed and my actions inflammatory. I want to violate them as they have violated me based on my sense of what’s right and wrong, good and bad. I want to wipe them off the planet so that I can live peacefully. However …

What I know is that my enemies are my best teachers. They reflect what I most hate in the world and most likely (like about 100%) they reflect aspects of myself that I do not wish to acknowledge or own. When my enemies are around, I have no doubt, I have something to learn.

My Ministers

Ministers are also my teachers, my coaches and counselors. They are my thinking partners, who also reflect back to me, through deep listening and questioning, how aligned I am with my highest truths and how I may be ignoring or distracting myself from the ways I’ve contributed to the very violence I hate in my adversaries. These wise beings bring my attention to the learnings so available for me by embracing the enemy as my long lost lover.

Sometimes, though, in the company of my enemies I retreat, hide and disappear into a myriad of disguises to protect myself from harm and from looking bad. I may throw stones from behind a barrier and pretend it’s not me at all who is engaged in warfare. I disown my anger, my feelings of righteousness and indignation. “It wasn’t me!” I exclaim with defensiveness and contempt for having been accused unjustly.

My ministers inquire regarding my actions, curious as to the origins of my behavior and the thoughts that precipitated them. What has me be blinded to my own truth – in denial (Don’t Even Know I am Lying) of my barbarous attitude and position?

We need our adversaries – our enemies to confront us. They bring out the worst in us and provide opportunities for us to truly reflect on the importance, value and priorities of our hierarchy of desires. We need our ministers, counselors, therapists and coaches to reflect what gifts are available for us by engaging with our enemies.

The Dilemma

Many of us love to hate! It makes us feel good to think violent thoughts and even go to war for what we believe to be right and true. How can we get even, or better yet, how can we be victorious? What if I consider the possibility that my enemies are gifts? What would that mean – what are the consequences of such a consideration?

I’ll tell you right now, I hate the thought of giving up my armor of righteousness and entitlement, because I feel safe, powerful and in control when I can wield them with stealth accuracy. Without them, I believe myself to be defenseless, exposed and vulnerable.

I ask myself – what is considered right? What is considered wrong? Who is responsible for the woes of the world? My ministers smile and with their eyes they inquire into my soul’s wisdom for what is true; and I then, for that moment comprehend that I am an accomplice in all acts of violence on the planet. Only by recognizing the seed of vengeance within me I’m able to receive the gifts of freedom from my enemy.

Through deep discernment and with the support and empowering nature of my ministers am I able to choose to choose to see myself and my enemies differently. Through the annihilation of my own pretence and the shattering of the barriers of them vs. us, am I truly allowed to realize I am my brother/sister’s keeper, and they are mine.

The dilemma as a choice-point shifts when I choose to honor my highest truth and risk losing my attachments, my position, my identity – perhaps even life itself for something much larger than me. I’m working on it!

I deny aspects of me that I know to be true – those dark shadowy aspects that if people were to find out about – well, it could mean rejection, humiliation and annihilation. It’s best that I pretend they don’t exist.

On the other hand I have a knowing of certain things to be true, yet I deny myself these knowings too. I live in doubt and uncertainty as strategies that diminish my potential power in the world, diminish my light and visibility. In past lives, I’ve probably been murdered or tortured for standing out beyond the norm. “Won’t do that again,” we say; yet living within the protective cocoon of our disguise and pretending is also torturous.

Many of my executive clients over the years have gone through a 360 degree evaluation process, whereby they ask for feedback from lots of people they work with and live with. An enormous about of information is generated, assessed and then returned to my clients so they can see how they show up, what they bring and what they perhaps want to consider bringing to the party.

These 360 processes are really valuable, and yet, my clients share that most of what is said isn’t new to them; they are already aware of what they do well and what they need to enhance, grow and develop.

I always find this fascinating that we know what we know, yet live and work as if it weren’t so. We wait to have our internal wisdom, knowledge and experience validated by the external world. WHY?

When people are doing bad things and are caught and brought to justice, they say “I knew it was wrong and is punishable, but spare me, please.”

This is crazy making; that we have the wisdom to know right from wrong. We have a knowing beyond what makes sense in the reality of the cause and effect world; we know this and yet we choose to deny our culpability and our God-given powers to be the fullest expression of the gifts of our being.

I finished a novel last week by Michael Sky, called Jubilee Day – A Novel. It is about our current circumstances regarding those who hold the power in the United States, how they use that power and the opportunity to choose differently. It’s a brilliant book!

Most of us use our power for egoic gains. We don’t stop ourselves. We also use our power to distract ourselves from the internal knowing that, if nothing else we are violating our own integrity and the dignity of our soul. We know and we pretend we don’t know.

The Dilemma

For those of us who attend church every Saturday and Sunday, hearing over and over the importance of using our power in support of all people, not just our little ego self, too often we ignore opportunities to practice what we preach when we enter our Monday through Friday Church of the Almighty Dollar.

We are faced with a dilemma.

Do I do what I know to be in the highest good of all – my company, employees, my own soul, or do I act in alignment with my personal desire for safety, security and control.

There is so much at stake!

Each individual is teetering on the brink of personal devastation. It is only a reflection of the devastation that we witness in all aspects of our Global system. Where current and flow of the Universal and natural unfoldment is ignored, diverted or stopped, in service to our insatiable hunger to be powerful and invulnerable in every way imaginable, we will come face to face with the consequences of our choice-making. Funny how it works that way!

If you’ve ever been around adolescents, you’ve noticed that they have that attitude of invulnerability, impenetrable to attack – They have become a super power unto themselves. As parents of adolescents, hopefully we remember our own teenage years when we knew that we knew everything, and no one could tell us any different. As adults we know it’s a stage in the learning process and that someday there will be a day of reckoning when these teenagers will fall off their pedestal and realize they are just human, just like the rest of us.

I think about the European Countries who have been around far longer than the US. In their youth they built their empires and been super powers; and all have been demolished, have fallen into ruin, only to be rebuilt from a more mature perspective. I see the more dignified and wise one’s smiling at the US, knowing of our youthful attitude of “no-one will take us down.” It is part of the process of maturing that we lose what we’ve not rightfully gained, in order to cultivate right-relationship with our currency of resources – the earth, our people, all of it.

The dilemma we face as individuals is that we are committed to holding onto our super power ideation, yet, at the same time being conscious of the cost of ignoring that fact that we can no longer build skyscrapers in the air. We hope we’ll get away with it, but …

Pretending that choosing to choose not to choose will keep us invulnerable to our human frailties is adolescent thinking at best. Inevitably, our commitment to avoiding mature and wise choice-making will lead us to a phenomenal human experience called despair. Despair is when we realize that the reality of our own creation – our skyscrapers in the air, are coming down, detonated by our own ignoring – not ignorance.

All of us face dilemmas that inevitable puts us in the line of fire of our own humanity. It’s your call to make life-choices consciously or unconsciously. From my point of view, it’s far more fun to powerfully engage in life fully awake, conscious and mature – willingly acting from a ground of wisdom and knowing … you already know what I’m talking about. Enjoy the adventure!

I can’t tell you the number of times over that past few weeks that I’ve heard the term seeing the big picture. I pay attention when something is said two or more times; there’s something to be mined for myself and perhaps for others.

Seeing the Big Picture; what the heck does that mean? What requires one to see the big picture? And, what dilemma becomes apparent when considering the leap? “The Leap?” you might ask. Why would it take a leap?

I’ll give you a number of analogies that might be helpful:

The Fishbowl Analogy:

We are all immersed in a paradigm and reality, much like a fish in the water it swims in. A fish can’t distinguish itself from this water, just as most of us don’t distinguish ourselves from our thoughts, emotions and body sensations; just as most of us don’t distinguish ourselves from the work, roles and details we’ve been attending to, without considering the value of our contribution, the degree of fulfillment, toxicity or dysfunction we may contribute to, and the productivity gained from a business or financial perspective.

The Life Guard Analogy:

If I’m a lifeguard, I’m less likely to see anyone in distress if I’m in the pool swimming around with the rest of the swimmers. I have to be up above the pool in order to get more of a bird’s eye view; this way I can see much more activity and take actions more quickly.

Director of a Play Analogy:

If I’m a director of a play, I’d not be able to see the whole representation or gestalt of a scene if I were on stage directing amid the characters. Seated off stage in the audience or even in the balcony I can see the bigger picture of how the actors engage with each other, the lighting, the set design, the sound quality: I can see things I wouldn’t be able to if I didn’t set myself apart to view get the Big Picture.

In the business environment, getting the Bigger Picture is what Alon is wanting of his new CFO, Chantal; and it’s what she want from the manager, Marko, who she is hiring next week; and, it’s what Alon’s manager is wanting from him, too. Do these individuals have the capacity to see the Bigger Picture and then make leadership decisions that will support what is desired for all?

It’s challenging to pop out of your current fishbowl or context in order to see the Bigger Picture. Again, like a fish, we don’t know that there is a reality outside the fishbowl within which we are immersed. We say “What Fishbowl? What Bigger Picture?” It’s not that we are ignorant, it’s that rarely is there a context that allows us to get that there is a Bigger Picture to see.

Until Chantal was hired as the CFO, it didn’t occur to her that she would need to operate differently from the way she had been working just months ago. Most of us take our Operating Procedure Manual(OPM)  with us to the next level of leadership only to find that we are drained by juggling what we’ve been doing with the requirement of working as if you are holding the Bigger Picture; before you even know what that means. Chantal realized that in order to fulfill her roles as the CFO she’s got to let go of her limiting OPM and take the leap.

Like the woman on the flying trapeze, Chantal will have to let go of a known way of viewing the world. She’ll have to operate from a different and larger perspective, which requires a letting go of the known for the unknown. She’ll be surrendering her invulnerability, and the survival mechanism she developed, that worked well enough to avoid vulnerability. Like all of us, Chantal wants to avoid that moment when she meets the “I don’t know how to make that leap without possibly falling on my face and looking like a complete fool and failure.”

Everyone of us who aspires to something greater than our current fishbowl, our current job, position, role, or level of responsibility has to risk this moment of vulnerability and failure. What makes a good leader and someone who is more likely to get promoted over and over again is the willingness to jump out of the fishbowl, out of the pool, off the stage, in order to see the Bigger Picture from which to lead far more effectively.

The bigger the picture you can hold the more valuable you are to your company and organization

One aspect of being an executive coach that I love is that I’m in a sense a leader’s leader. I hold the bigger picture for my executive clients to live into. I give them a bigger bandwidth within which to experience themselves, their organization and the role they intend to play. I empower them to make the leap and while in the leap experience the transition from who they thought they were to who they are becoming. This noticing of what it’s like to be in the leap – noticing the various muscles that are used to engage, maintain and complete the leap is also an aspect of the Bigger Picture that we don’t think about when we ask our direct reports to shift or change their context in order to also see and act from the Big Picture.

Moments of Transcendence

Quite often we have moments of lucidity, where we get the big AH-HA! However, this moments of transcendence dissolve back into are reality that we call normal. Exercising the muscles of awareness through noticing, which constantly nudges one to stay awake and aware, is required for most of us to truly shift our paradigm to include this next level of the Bigger Picture.

The dilemma, which will surely arise is that we are generally committed to maintaining the level of comfort and invulnerability within which we don’t feel threatened and are in jeopardy of losing respect or losing face. In order to let go of the trapeze bar of one level of functioning in order to swing to and grasp another, you have to be committed enough to let go of what no longer serves. Some of us aren’t willing to do this unless we know that there is a secure and well-placed safety net below that will catch us unscathed if we do fall.

One distinction of a good leader is that they are willing to risk the scathing, the failures, and the vulnerability because they are able to see from a bigger picture that these potential risks serve the Bigger Picture. They are committed to this bigger picture enough. Without the ability to see the bigger picture they would not have the level of fearlessness required to make those hard choices.

Rising to the level of incompetence

Formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, the Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence,” meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently.

Peter’s corollary states that “in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out their duties” and adds that “work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.” “Managing upward” is the concept of a subordinate finding ways to subtly “manage” superiors in order to limit the damage that they end up doing.

With the Peter Principle in mind then, one perhaps rises to their ability to see the Bigger Picture and then be able to act with competence, fulfilling their duties. It takes commitment and a capacity to expand one’s reality. What are you willing to practice in service to seeing the Bigger Picture and perhaps meet your incompetence? Every great leader must face this exquisite and essential moment of reckoning. And, if they can learn from the experience they have a great capacity to empower others to do the same.

Enjoy the adventure!

You and a colleague, Harry are up for a promotion. You know you are the better person for the job, but Harry got the position. He’s pompous, arrogant and doesn’t have the leadership skills that inspire you to generate, well, anything. You scratch your head in disbelief that he was chosen over you.

Part of you, perhaps wants to sabotage Harry’s efforts and do whatever you can to expose him for the inadequate, incompetent individual that you see him to be; however, that goes against your integrity, and you may end up looking bad and feeling worse in the end.

For some reason, even though the whole office knows of Harry’s incompetence, no one seems to take action. He’s that one rotten apple that spoils the whole barrel.

There are a lot of Harry’s and Harriets in the business world. As an administrative assistant, manager or whatever your position, you know you are smarter than your boss. You deserve his salary and every perk that goes along with his position, because you are working your butt off and he’s the one that is looking good! AAARRRGGHH!

If you go above Harry’s head to his boss, Glenda, you might be not only aggravate Harry but also be making it clear to Glenda that she may have made a choice that is creating negative consequences far beyond any expectations. She’s already regretting her choice and knows there’s nothing she can do.

This scenario is not uncommon. Probably 30% of my business clients are struggling with at least one particular individual that is a thorn in their side. They question their own sanity and the sanity of those who put the Harrys of the world in those positions. What do you do?

It’s a dilemma.

Do you stay or do you go? Do you ask to get transferred? Do you stay and suck it up, because you need the job? Do you try to go around Harry, or do you do what you do best and ignore what Harry wants from you?

My job as a transformational coach is not to fix, heal or convert clients, so they’ll have the answers to problems that they face. My job is to be a thinking partner, empowering clients to unravel all of the complexities that are bringing him or her to this dilemma and this choice-point.

Our businesses systems are no different than our family systems, in that they are generated and driven by survival mechanisms that most likely operate from a fear-based paradigm. They have been cultivated through generations of personal relationships based on cultural, religious, gender and racial factors. Too often wisdom and common sense do not enter into the equation when it comes to how a business or family is operating. We take for granted and assume intelligence and maturity would be foundational to choosing directors, managers and leaders, but trust me, and you may know from your own experience, most people running businesses, departments and corporations function, to some degree, from the emotional intelligence of an adolescent. It makes sense that you are going to think you are smarter than your boss; in some ways you probably are; in other ways you probably aren’t.

Notice the Pattern

The trick is to notice this pattern of operating. When you’re feeling smarter than – what’s the quality of the experience? Are you feeling righteous and arrogant, contemptuous and condescending? Do you feel frustrated and discouraged? What actions are you likely to take from righteous, condescending, frustrated and discouraged? What do you do to compensate for feeling this way? How do you avoid, distract, ignore or deny your own part in this dysfunctional process? By the way, we are all participating in having the Harry’s of the world be where they are.

The questions funnel down to just one:

What is it you are here to learn that has Harry be in your life, in this time, in this way?

Answer this question and you’ll understand what it is you need to shift in order to facilitate the learning. I guarantee that while doing what’s required in order to make the shift, you’ll notice that Harry will either change or go away! It’s fascinating to observe what changes within our environment once we get our part in maintaining it as it has been.

Entangled and embroiled in the cauldron of complexity of our work environment, its challenging to see all of this without a thinking partner or coach who can hold the bigger picture and who also holds you accountable for your participation in the unfolding of your life within this bigger picture. No coach or thinking partner? That’s okay. Just be willing to be truthful in answering the questions above. This alone will create a positive shift for you; and the Harry’s of the world will go POOF!

By the way, some of the Harry’s of the world are my clients too. Given an opportunity to look at what has them choose to choose to be how they be, they, too, willingly shift in support of a larger, more fulfilling outcome. Yey for us all!

Dilemmas of Being in Business

by Rosie Kuhn on October 26, 2011

The intention of this series is to introduce you to a way of thinking that empowers you to see more clearly how you choose to choose what you choose in regard to the work you do, the people you work with and with yourself. While in your work environment there is never a time when you are not in relationship with these three. You are always juggling, prioritizing and reprioritizing in order for you to feel a sense of balance, fulfillment and in charge.

How you choose to balance and prioritize is based on your hierarchy of commitments. Your top commitment is usually what you say out loud. At the same time, the other commitments, especially the other top three or four are also vying for attention and hence become more often than not, conflicting commitments. What this feels like to many of us is that we are stuck, frustrated, not getting ahead, anxious and stressed. Progress is happening too slowly and you haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause.

When we are able to distinguish the many aspects of life and work we are committed to, then we are able to make sense of the competing factors that have us feel pulled in at least two directions at once. This puts us in a dilemma. Normally, for most of us we don’t know what to choose or how to choose to choose, and so we sit in this dilemma, at the choice-point, waiting and hoping for something to steer us in the right direction. Regardless of your position on the corporate ladder, you are most likely sitting at this choice-point – waiting and hoping.

This series, called the Dilemmas of Being, will explore a number of aspects of corporate and business life, which will allow a deeper investigation of what could be conflicting commitments in your life and how to navigate this choice-point in service to your highest truth and the highest good of your organization and all of those associated with you.

I will share with you my model, from which I clearly distinguish the reality or circumstance as it appears on one level (Domain of Circumstance); the way we choose to act, think and be, regarding our circumstance (Domain of Self-Empowerment); the aspect of being that has us either feel inadequate, unworthy and unlovable, and continually on alert that we will be found out, and the aspect of our being that knows without questions that we are brilliant, creative, lovable and visionary – this aspect is continually pushing for our highest and fullest expression of self (Domain of Humanity). I also include the Domain of Universal Source/Oneness, from which we’ve all come and with which we are ongoingly relating. Also known as our higher power, God, Goddess, etc, it is that which we pray to, talk with, or, or for some, ignore and deny any relationship at all. It’s the unknowable, mystery.

Understanding that we are not our circumstances, we are not our choices, we are not even our humanity, gives us an opportunity to be with the questions – “If I’m not that, then what am I?”

It’s not as though this conversation isn’t going on inside you without your knowledge or consent. It actually never stops! It’s just that your hierarchy of commitments may have you ignoring and distracting this ongoing conversation you are having with yourself to the degree that it’s barely a whisper among the din of noise of circumstances, survival needs and pleasures sought.

I am a life and business coach. What I’m sharing with you here is much of what I share with all of my corporate clients. I empower them to empower themselves to acknowledge the current dilemma that has them have to choose between what they say they want and the conflicting commitments, which they want but not so much as their spoken commitment. How to choose to choose what they choose while at this choice-point is no different than how many of you choose to choose what you choose. Over the next six months we’ll have fun begin curious, exploring and experiment with the dilemmas of being – you in business.