This article comes to you today courtesy of my ego. Yep, my ego has spurred me into writing yet another article on it (so ego-like of it). It wanted me to write about what an awesome leader it is, how it always has its shit together, and very nearly all the time, is perfect. What I haven’t shared with my ego when I agreed to write on its behalf, is that I’m also going to expose what’s underneath the shit-together-perfectionism and how to wiggle your way out from under the heavy weight of leading – and specifically - leading transformation.
Transformation by its very nature carries a heaviness to it. It’s serious work! You have to wake up from your sleepwalk, open your eyes to something you don’t usually want to see about yourself, get curious about what else could be happening if you weren’t subscribed to a belief that’s got you by the neck, and then take appropriate action that only 100% of the time involves facing fear and vulnerability! Shitballs - heavy is baked into that cake.
There are times when I find myself getting caught up in the seriousness of the business of my clients’ and my own transformation, not to mention running a business whose currency is transformation. So I turned to my friend Merriam-Webster to get some clarity around the concept of SERIOUS and its antidote KITTENISH.
Here’s what she had to say:
Serious = heavy, grave, weighty (ugh).
Antonyms = flippant, playful, humorous and kittenish (meow).
What I mean when I say I feel serious, is that I can FEEL it in my body. It’s heavy, stiff, my breathing is shallow (or there’s lots of sighing), my energy is in my head and I’m always trying to figure something out. It’s busy up in there. My mind is thinking things like: this is really important I better not mess it up, what will people think about me, there’s a right way to do this, I’m going to bother/hurt someone if I do it wrong, my business depends on this, my reputation is on the line, I have to pull this off, I can’t wait til it’s over so I can breathe, I have to look professional/polished/like the expert, I have to have the answers, this needs to pay the bills, etc.
This is the landscape of scarcity and vulnerability.
As leaders, we have to develop the finely tuned skill of noticing when we’re in THE STICKY and what to do about it.
It’s our responsibility to ourselves and those that we lead to do our own work! So what if instead of getting stuck in THE STICKY, we used it as a feedback loop? What if we swallowed down a hefty dose of curiosity in these spots, and looked at this as an opportunity to clear something out from the cobwebs of the ego attic that would have us showing up larger and more in charger through the VULNERABILITY of admitting there’s work to be done. We’ve all got cobwebs, but as leaders, we have to do something about them if we want to show up as our best and lead people to new places within themselves. You’ve got to do the work you help others through. Because where you get stuck is where they get stuck, by design.
So where does KITTENISH come in you may be asking? Well, the antidote to serious, heavy and grave is playful, humorous and kittenish. We’ve got to be like a young, furry thing that doesn’t care what anyone else thinks and be curious about what’s around us. How can we look at a familiar person/situation and see it in a new light? How can we be open to lighter energy that will allow us to create from an entirely different place? And attract entirely different people/situations? And hold space for entirely different levels of transformation to occur?
When a slice of the serious cake shows up, how can we be like a kitten
and find the wonder in where we are?
8 Steps to Transforming the Serious:
STEP ONE: Create awareness
Notice you are IN the gunk.
STEP TWO: Get curious about the heaviness/stuck/uninspired spot you're in. What if heaviness/seriousness wasn’t the problem, but the road sign that lets you know something wants your attention and is ready to be transformed?
Get clear about what feels heavy – an area of your business, personal life, inspiration, your clients, (for retreat leaders: content creation, retreat location, timing, marketing).
Ask - What am I believing right now? Get clear about your thoughts through journaling or speaking it out loud to a friend/colleague/mentor.
Observe how it shows up in the body. Where? What’s the quality of it? If you tune into it and ask it for one piece of helpful information, what information do you get?
STEP THREE: Find the vulnerability
Is this ego at work? Is there an internal threat to your image, beliefs or habits? Give the ego space by journaling all of its concerns and see what you really find under the serious.
STEP FOUR: Take Action
What is one action you can take that would honor what you’re finding?
Is it to make space and actually feel what’s coming up instead of distracting? Is it slowing down? Connecting with nature? Moving through the resistance into new territory?
STEP FIVE: Connect with your Community
Who can you reach out to that will be supportive but not commiserate with you? We need people that will not jump in the gunk with us, but remind us who we are when we forget. Build your community for days like these!
STEP SIX: Teach/lead/write from your transforming place
This is your own transformation and will be what resonates with your people. No one wants to learn how to transform from robots – they want REAL people doing REAL work!
STEP SEVEN: Is there any ease or play available right now?
Can you release tension from the body, your thinking, or actions (breathing is real helpful)? How could you make this more fun? (put music on, light a candle, pull a card, make funny faces at your dog, play with a kid, watch how kids play, connect with nature and look at the ease of which all moves in, watch a funny video or movie, remind yourself that you are but a speck of dust in the universe and that while the serious thing is important it's not THAT important, and done is better than perfect. Can you put something to rest that you’ve been chewing on for far too long? Get up, move your body, put music on, listen to something that makes you laugh. Hit the EASY BUTTON!
STEP EIGHT: Drop the bone!
Just stop it. Stop whatever you’re doing. I dare you. Give yourself a time limit and walk away from whatever was causing the serious. Once your time is up, go back to it and see if it looks different. Worked for Einstein, might just work for you.
Remember – your genius as a leader comes from the discoveries you make when you are walking your own talk, breaking through the sticky spots, and when things get thick, getting your kitten on!
Drop me a line if you’re stuck, and let’s see where there may be some wiggle room!