What is the Leadership Shadow? Why does it matter?

Who would you rather work for?

Leader A is a high-achiever that pushes hard and drives results. Still, Leader A may suffer from exhaustion and feelings of remaining stuck. Their methods might also leave chaos, complaints and high turnover in their wake. 

Leader B is characterized by a sense of humility and self-awareness. Their comfort in dealing with emotions in self and others allows them to navigate difficulty and complexity in the workplace. Leader B possesses the ability to transform patterns and processes that facilitate results.

What is the difference? Shadow work.

As Carl Jung once said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious it will direct your life, and you will call it fate”.

The shadow is an unconscious blindspot. Shadow work is leadership development work that allows visibility into these unconscious blindspots. The recovery and discovery process through the shadow serves as a doorway to the authentic self, allowing leaders greater access to greater choices.

Imagine you were born into a world that required you to live in a box. Since the box is protective, it might shield you from your past, any shame or pain. Therefore, everything inside the box can feel acceptable or considered “successful.” Whichever way one might try to minimize, ignore, and decorate it, this life in the shadow only leads to compromises.

Momentary compromise is bearable until you are in a lasting self-betrayal.

How do people normally adjust to the discomfort of ongoing compromise? Numb out, escape into a secret life, martyrdom, isolation, overwork – a lot of ways that are not that constructive.

Or, break the damn box, go into the wilderness to enter a world of recovery and discovery. Many contemporary teachers: Martha Beck, Dave Richo, Brene Brown, David Whyte, John Bradshaw etc., encourage people toward the wilderness of the true self.

But when you break the box and enter the wild, you might see the shadow and not know what to do with it. The first impulse may be to be repulsed, reject, blame, or run away screaming, are you kidding me? This! You want me to embrace this?

Oh, the dilemmas.

Do you keep going into the somewhat repulsive, somewhat intriguing wilderness or do you go back to the safety, certainty, and reliability of the box? 

What seems terrifying could be the greatest gift of all, if you can withstand the process of turning devastation into a diamond and holding the dark as an entry to your light.

Having the right coach can help you discern a way forward that doesn’t require a physical and emotional toll. This is a path that is more aligned to your authentic truth. Exploring Shadow Work will enable you to continue producing top results as a leader and extend that sense of wellbeing and high performance to your entire team

Stay curious. #shadowcoach

Shadow Work is not easy. It requires readiness, work with a well trained coach often in conjunction with a therapist for surfaced wounds.

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