When I was about seventeen, my friend Donna and I decided to travel to the cornerstone musical festival in Chicago. I was complaining about something or other, like any happy teenager often does (sarcasm). Donna listened quietly, and as she gently rolled down her window, said, “Nina, you just need to be a whole person.” I was like “What? What the What??” A bunch of questions ran through my mind. For instance, “What does that even mean? Which part of me is she talking about?” Ever since I was little, I knew that I had many sides of myself, yet I had no idea what she was talking about. This conversation stayed with me for years as I studied personal and professional development.
Have you seen Pixar’s movie, Inside Out? This movie is a dream come true for transformational coaches such as myself. At last, the word is out in a big way that we ALL have conversations in our mind, especially when we are making decisions, or when someone rubs us the wrong way, am I right? Although Pixar’s movie expresses the inside voices as emotions, there is much more under the surface. This work of sub-personalities has been around for years. For example, the brilliant author, John Rowan, wrote about the different parts of our minds in the book, Subpersonalities: The People Inside Us. The book explains how different parts of ourselves come forward based on the situation at hand.
Although we have encouraging voices in our minds, the toughest voice for me to make peace with is the voice of the internal judge that says, “Not good enough,” or, “I am not wanted.” On the other side of the boardroom is my Leader Within who knows that in order to make peace, I have to learn what’s good about having an internal judge. During a recent speaking event, I talked about how not feeling good enough can often mean a value of quality is being overly expressed and not feeling wanted means that I’ve placed an overly high value on relationships. Over the years, I continue to learn that a whole person is someone that can rally all those voices in their mind and make conscious healthy choices. I hope that this has sparked some differing conversations in your mind! Either way, I’d like to propose a thought-provoking question: “Who’s running your Inside Crew right now?”
At any one time, especially when making decisions or holding a boundary, there are opposing voices in our minds expressing different needs. I call this our inside Crew. When we identify the values each inner Crew Member is trying to express, we can come to a conscious decision. We still have external circumstances to deal with and yet should have a feeling of peace inside. This isn’t always easy to achieve on our own. Oftentimes, we get hijacked by our own thought processes and end up stuck, stymied. This is why an “external” Crew is vital in times of transition. We must have mirrors (coach, mentor, mastermind group, etc.) to help us “see” what we are lacking.
I’ll give you an example: recently, one of my teenage step-daughters had been actively resistant to doing her regular chores. If you’re a parent, especially a step-parent (fighting the evil step-mother persona), you understand the conflict and know that teenagers need consistency. My husband (her father) had been traveling extensively, and so I was home with our two daughters and had to address the situation head on.
The first voice in my mind said, “She’s only doing what she knows to do. Just ignore her while she is here. She doesn’t listen to you anyway.” Another voice said, “I don’t care. I don’t want to be near her.” Yet a third said, “You’re a coach, you should know how to figure this out.” As a coach, I have high expectations for myself; however, I needed help on this one!
As I met with our family coach, Lucetta, I let each voice speak for a moment. I found that my values were conflicted. One value I have is to be a supportive partner to my husband by helping him while he is away, another is called self-care, and a third honors my profession by practicing what I preach. I realized that I am a step-mother, not a step-on mother. I learned that it would be familiar for me to just let her do what she wants to do and not enforce her chores while I am with her. But it’s not effective. If we want effective, we need to get in touch with our healthy inner teenager that is willing to risk the familiar for a better way. Make sense? By holding our boundaries as a family, my relationship with my step-daughter has never been better. For me it stems from taking responsibility for my world.
Another example of navigating my inner Crew is when I decided to concentrate on leadership coaching. One voice said, “No, Nina, stay with this consulting business. You’re making a lot of money and you are your own boss. You don’t know what’s around the corner.” A second voice said, “If I were to die now, what would my life have meant?” You see, two conflicting values: one that says, “Stay financially successful,” another that says, “Be in service to others.” So I had to sit with those voices until a third butted in (my healthy teenager) that said, “What if I could have both?” Thus, BusinessCoachingOnDemand.com was started, offering coaching, mentoring and leadership groups for business leaders.
Typically, when we feel stuck it’s helpful to be around people who assume you are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. In this way, they can help you identify your conflicting values and develop a strong plan for moving forward. The bottom line is if your home or work environment expresses values other than your own personal values, it’s time to do something different.
Inside Crew Mind Map
Creating our own unique, inside Crew (Leaders from Within) mind map will allow us to gain a stronger awareness and understanding of our world within. In this exercise, you will have the opportunity to look inward and reflect on your internal beliefs, assumptions, and values, as well as to expand your knowledge of just what leadership is and is not. Identifying your intrinsic core values will propel you forward in your personal and work-life. By focusing on our constructive attributes, possibilities become clearer, and the celebration of the positive outcomes that are certain to follow is more likely to occur.
Some of our clients identify their inside Crew Members by their values; for example, Adam the Appreciator, Alice the Adventurer, Move-it Molly, Slow-it-Down Sally, Creative Connie, Curious Chris, Larry the Listener, Intuitive Nina, and Rational Robert. Or you can examine the different stages of development that you carry with you today: e.g. Little Nina, Teenager Tina, or Grumpy Granny, etc. You may notice that Crew Members often balance one another so an adventurous side of you may need to have a conversation with the rational side. Ultimately, all voices are inside of us to serve our highest good. The key is building our objective observer (Leader Within) in order to honor each part.
For this exercise you will need a blank piece of paper, or better yet, a poster board. When creating your Inside Crew Member mind map, think about what you might name your Leader Within. This is an opportunity for you to identify the attributes that stand out in your internal guidance system. Consider including branches, such as events or triggers that call forth your Leader Within. Perhaps there are symbols, metaphors, quotes or images that you want to include. Remember to also include what makes you feel fulfilled, some of your core values, and what you know about your life purpose(s).
Breathe. Slow down and be quiet enough to hear your Leader Within.
Be Aware. Notice your thoughts, feelings and assumptions, and notice how your Leader Within responds to these things. Don’t get hijacked by critical voices that don’t serve you.
Think about doing this exercise with a coach or friend that can help keep you on track (they won’t have the same critical voices in their head about you).
Each mind map is unique. Yours will be exactly as it should be for today. Enjoy the process and have fun!
Extra Credit. What’s it like knowing you have a Leader Within (internal positive guidance system)? Do you feel this knowing in some particular place within your body?
A Closer Look at “C” for Crew
It’s lonely at the top,” but only if you don’t align yourself with a capable and committed Crew.
As discussed earlier, it’s critical that Business Leaders realize they don’t have to go it alone. You can have a Crew in the form of coaches, mentors, partners, and other Business Leaders. These folks have an idea of the various distractions that can impact your leadership. Although your family may be emotionally supportive, consider how much they can speak to what is happening in your particular industry and situation.
Those who report to you in the organization are apt to be politically correct and focused on their own agenda rather than to be honest and tell you what you should know. Often, one of the more prevalent mistakes Business Leaders make is when they surround themselves with people too similar to themselves. This is solved with the magic of the development of a mastermind group or a “Crew” of people who have a variety of business and leadership experience and can empathize and strategize with you.
The truth is that often, as “the boss,” it’s difficult to get real, honest feedback from the people you are paying. Unfortunately, many leaders have learned their styles from limited examples, and have very limited contrasting viewpoints to challenge them.
The idea of a customer (or client) being on your Crew is a progressive one. I mean how vulnerable can you really be with a client right? In coaching, staying reserved when a client is processing is called “self-management.” However, without our clients we don’t have a business, so why not put them on the ship with the rest of our Crew?
If we’re in business, we need to really understand our customer because we need one another. If we’re smart, we’ll anticipate what they want or need before they even ask. Once we have an understanding of how our customer thinks, feels, acts, we then “hold the space” in our minds and in our communications for them to respond. When you think about your customer, it should conjure up a single person. This is not to say all your clients will fit into one box perfectly. However, once you’ve identified your customer, place an object or photo that represents your vision of your ideal customer where you can be reminded of who you serve every day.
Your Customer Assessment
§ Who are they? What do they feel now? Want? Need? What Gaps or Pains do they have? What is the ultimate outcome they want by working with you?
§ What can you promise your customer?
§ How will you get in front of them?
§ Where do they go? What do they do?
§ What are neighboring (like) industries that serve them?