“I can’t police my calendar. As CEO, I have to be available whenever anyone needs me.”
“It’s just easier to say ‘yes’ to people. It’s not worth making other people unhappy with my pushback.”
“Really – unfortunately – I can do it better myself.”
Leaders: statements like these are examples of your demons running the show. And these demons are belief systems in disguise.
Take my client Tara. We met just as the founder of her 500-person organization was about to step down and Tara was on track to take the CEO role. She was profoundly conflicted about the move. Tara was more than qualified to be a great leader, but, as the founder prepared to pass the baton, he had one piece of important feedback: Tara needed to assert herself more powerfully.
Tara knew it was true. She just wasn’t sure how to begin addressing this vague piece of feedback. That’s when she came to MettaWorks. We’d been working together for a while when I asked Tara why it was that our sessions were scheduled outside normal working hours.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she replied, her voice hesitant.
“What if we made it earlier?” I suggested. Tara’s eyes widened. I could sense panic starting to rise in her. I watched as she struggled to regain her composure.
“Um, okay,” Tara said, now at half her normal volume.
“Hold on,” I said. “Let’s pause here for a second. I can see this is bringing something up for you.”
When I pressed Tara on why she felt she couldn’t schedule coaching sessions during regular hours she fought back tears.
“I don’t feel like I can spend my time on coaching during work hours, you know, for my benefit,” she said. “What will people think of me if I don’t make myself available?…”
And there it was, a belief system: “I can’t police my calendar. As CEO, I want to be available whenever anyone needs me.”
In Tara’s case, this belief system disguised a powerful underlying emotion. Terror. The terror she felt about managing her calendar was the core reason Tara was struggling to assert herself.
The work is learning to see through the disguises to the emotions living at the core of the belief system. That’s when real change can happen.
It was only once we had identified Tara’s core emotion that we could begin doing the work that would help Tara step into her power.
Is this speaking to you? Then it’s time to do the inner work. You can start by picking up a copy of my book, Who You Are Is How You Lead. In it, I describe how leaders like Tara discover where their demons are hiding, and how to access the inner strength that’s alive and well beneath unhelpful patterns, behaviors, and habits.
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant