NUGGET: See over-reaction as a sign that your shadow is trying to take over.

We know what we should do, but do we always do it?  For example, “I should pick up my own trash, wear a mask, prepare for the meeting.  But I have a problem with authority in general.  This problem may originate in my relationship with my parents.  And this transfers to all authority: as soon as I realize what YOU want, I am conditioned to do the opposite.  So in spite of what is in the larger and even my own best interest, I will go in another direction.   In the meantime, you begin to treat me like your big brother treated you.  You get impatient, tell me what to do, and with an anger that is not really warranted by the situation, you warn me about the consequences (behaviors you were NOT taught in leadership training!).  I treat you as the problem, and you react to me as the problem.  The deeper dynamics, in the meantime, are being orchestrated by our shadows!

Shadow boxing due to our undeveloped relationship with our own and others’ power occurs frequently in and around work.  It stifles productivity, ruins relationships, and turns businesses and governments into villains and ogres in newspapers and on TV.  It also ruins or at least stagnates life and learning, and leads to painful remorse and regret when, too old to change things, everyone involved looks back and thinks, “what if…”

Today it is more important than ever to face into the shadow side of power.  All of us have a shadow – parts of us that are denied and stowed away because they don’t fit our conscious view of ourselves in the world.  Also, This is a very important topic for our time, for rather than face into our shadows, it is all too common to deny and demonize them.  We see this happening in our tendency to polarize – shareholder/environment, management/labor, Republican/Democrat, Islam/Christianity, East/West, we the virtuous/they the terrorists.  While polarization has a positive role to play, a hardening of opposition can only have terrible outcomes for individuals, organizations, and society as a whole.

The first step is awareness: noticing when our reactions and emotions are out of proportion to the situation – when we are defending, justifying, rejecting without first really understanding.  It’s a tall order, yet we are part of a consciousness revolution that will increasingly require more awareness, personal growth, and self-control.  The result: a proud legacy, a clean conscience, and trusting relationships where we interact with each other without our shadows getting in the way!.

NUGGET: See over-reaction as a sign that your shadow is trying to take over.

Learn more about the shadow in my book, The Shadow Side of Power: Lessons for Leaders.

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