Posts Tagged ‘hades’

Ever been attracted to someone who will save the day? You know, the White Knight that will save the situation? What about the flip side? Someone showing up in your life you absolutely can’t stand? A leader must pay very close attention to feelings that accompany these situations. Are you aware both situations can have a great deal in common? They can have what I call large “blind spots” associated with them, blind spots into which organizations can fall and disappear.

There’s a curious component to these blind spots since they can have as much or more to do with the leader’s character as the exterior reality. The dynamics of these blind spots and how to deal with them fall under the category of projection. So what is projection? How can one deal with it?


Projection is shady. It creates false feelings of well being around potentially disastrous decisions. At the core projection deals with the desire to take a shortcut to avoid going to dark places, especially within.


Previous blogs mention we all have portions of our psyche that are quite strong and other parts that are weak. Over time, we tend to build our lives around the stronger components and gradually develop a fear of those weaker ones. The primary reasons for the fear are imagined and real instabilities from which we believe we may not recover. Simply put, our reputation, business, etc., are at stake. We are staring at uncertainty.

The shortcut attempted is trying to find someone, the Other, who will deal with those dark spaces for us. We become infatuated with the Other. The Other is taken hostage. Conversely, the shortcut with the detested person is to simply get rid of him or her. This way the scary work can, again, be avoided. In both cases the leader stays myopic, loses vision, and is unable to see the consequences of decisions. A boss hiring someone to do the more difficult parts of the boss’s responsibilities (read: dirty work) is a good example of projection. It tears the team apart.

So Which is Which?

How does one know if the desired decision is wise and simple or blind and chaotic? In one word, “Options.” In two words, “Risk management.” In another two words, “Assumption analysis.” Let me explain.

Projection is sly and takes several forms. It is a narcotic that puts discernment to sleep. It is a demolition expert wiring explosives to all that has been built. It puts the trigger in the leader’s hand. It intensifies emotionality making pulling the trigger feel oh so sweet. (“Just fire him! Just hire her! Start without a contract! Requirements gathering will slow us down! Cash flow! Everything will be okay.”) Then it waits for the blind decision that irreversibly pulls the trigger and destroys healthy power, assets, and people.

By asking questions around options, risk management, and assumption analysis the door to healthier decision-making opens. Vision returns. Now, all this means going into those dark spaces. It’s hard work, rewarding work. It’s also the simplest work. (There’s never enough time to do it right the first time but there’s always time to fix it.) Keep in mind that just like Hades in Greek mythology, that’s where the real gold not the fool’s gold is!

Being greedy can lead to disastrous results. Nurturing your network and cultivating abundance is critical for sustained success and peace of mind. Greed and its consequences show up in Greek mythology. The lessons are quite relevant today especially in a complex, chaotic business world. It can be seen in the battle to be the central hub and monopolize an economy. (Think “Google vs Microsoft”.) But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s begin with a story, a rather grizzly one.

Trying to Have It All

The Titan Kronos wanted to have it all. So, he shamed his own father, the god Ouranos (the Heavens), by castrating him. Kronos then took possession of everything. Before committing the act he was warned his yet-to-be born son would depose him.

After gaining control and as time went by he became increasingly preoccupied with what was foretold. So, in greed and fear he swallowed every one of his offspring…or so he thought. His wife, Rheia, tricked him when the sixth child, Zeus, was born. She substituted a stone (see, greed is blind!).

Up-ending the Status Quo

Zeus was raised in secret. When old enough he ambushed his father, Kronos. Zeus kicked him in the stomach so hard all of Zeus’s siblings were vomited up: Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon.

Releasing the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Looking closer at Zeus’s siblings reveals a lot regarding what is set free when change is embraced. Demeter was the goddess of bountiful harvests. Hestia was the goddess of domestic joy. Hera was the goddess of love, marriage and nurturing. So far, so good.

Things get a little dicier with Hades. Hades was the god of the Underworld, the place for both riches (gold, etc.) and death. Hmmm. Finally, there is Poseidon, god of the sea (source of food), earthquakes (disasters), and horses (the ability to move and connect).

Because of such a bold act Zeus was made god of the immortals. While he did set positive forces free he was not the friendliest god on Mount Olympus – tossing lighting bolts at those who offended him.

Myth and Business

If you look around your own personal pantheon you probably can identify the gods mentioned. It is important to understand them and their powers when seeking to bring about change.  Keeping your eyes open and practicing anticipatory awareness (see Anticipation blog in the Leadership Cancer series) will help you see in a neutral manner the forces at plan in your business universe.

This is worth repeating. When working with change anticipatory awareness is extremely important. People just are as they are. By accepting and watching them you can decide what risks are worth taking.  It has the benefit of maximizing growth should you succeed and keeping your self-esteem and personal integrity intact should you fall down. Over time there will be more of the former and less of the latter.

If you get indigestion swallowing stones or are having a hard time dodging lightning bolts or want to share a personal triumph send me an e-mail at or visit