"Success springs from knowing who we truly are: transforming the limitations of yesterday into a totally empowered tomorrow. We'll show you how." - WILLIAM D. ANTON PH.D.
These are the ones that allow you to function and move forward albeit on a path that takes you farther away from your true self. These are the lies that silently lure you further and further away from your inner power and genius. Perhaps the greatest lie of all is your conscious minds propensity to believe that your self-appraisal is a realistic assessment of your potential.
Most of us experience only a fraction of our potential and retain our early parental (and other) injunctions in the timeless part of our mind. Even though it’s silent, this part of our mind continues to signal to our awareness that we are living only a part of our true potential. When this concept is carried over to your business, it becomes clear that it also may be achieving only a fraction of its full potential.
The most effective leaders pay attention to events, patterns of behavior, systematic structures and purpose, but focus predominantly on purpose and systematic structure.
There are many paths to external achievement. But, too many are accompanied by a disparity between mastery of the outside (knowledge, skills and abilities) and neglect of inside. The frontier inside is where our true power and inner genius reside; our true self.
Many focus on the outside at the expense of the inside. From the perspective of a life, this can be the greatest mistake of all. There is only one pathway to exponential potential accompanied by joy, and that is self-knowledge. Self-awareness is helpful and emotional intelligence adds great value. But, the real work of life starts and ends with you. Nobody slides my friend!
The most important task of life is to grow out of narcissism into maturity. This may be thought of as the internal work of spiritual development. Yet most of us spend a lifetime avoiding this necessary first step. We build complex lives based on the scaffolding of immaturity (early mental models) and don’t even know it. We believe we are growing and developing when in reality we are adding floors to a structure that will demand a ransom sometime in the future. (Many examples present themselves in public view). Our relationship with our true self is the upper limit on the quality of the relationship we can achieve with anyone else and knowing ourselves as we truly are is the necessary pre-condition for both Joy and Effectiveness.
We get stuck at a certain point in our lives because we continue to use the same fuel that got us to cruising altitude, and that fuel can only take us to familiar destinations. Changing the fuel involves first seeing reality clearly and being willing to endure some discomfort for greater success in the future.” Rudolf Diesel, Nicola Tesla, and Charles Goodyear all managed to die penniless, even as their inventions changed the world.” (Harrington & Priestley, 2015)
Resistance is the interface between our mental models and the external world. Just as gravity warps space, our mental models influence what we see, what we create, how we interpret what we observe and what action tendencies are linked to these. We are pretty much stuck with our early mental models until the threshold between the amygdale and the left pre-frontal context matures around our mid twenties. Two things that definitely contribute to the constructive disruption of the original models are meditation and “doing the harder thing.” Information alone, even if logical and supported by data is rarely enough to produce real change.
Resistance in its various manifestations first presented itself in response to parental imperatives. Compromises between our proclivities and what we perceived as their desires were necessary since authority figures in our early life had more power and control than we did. These compromises represented ways of negotiating our early environment without surrendering too much of our true selves. In essence, it was the best deal our immature brain could strike at the time. Hence, when an authoritative person presents us with a logical case for action, the structure and function of our early relationships influences decisions and actions and a lot if not all of this occurs primarily at the unconscious level.
Obviously the more we have pursued “genuine” spiritual and psychological development in our lives the less we are likely to habitually engage in actions primarily based on outdated models. This is because the early models have been expanded to include a more realistic and complete view of ourselves based on our willingness to engage in transformational learning. In other words, we have had the courage to change everything by changing and revising our mental models. This is the kind of learning referred to in The Fifth Discipline. If the original models continue hold sway, the grown up parts of us may still observe that something is missing in our level of agreeableness and desire to serve, but the child still holds back what is most essential. This is especially true if taking action disrupts an “at home feeling” that we have struggled to maintain; often unseen and almost always at great cost to us.
When you are in a position of leadership all of this is magnified and affects everyone in your organization from direct reports expanding throughout the organization, like dropping an object into a calm and clear body of water!
Commitment from those within a system is largely a result of how much those who lead permit themselves and others within the organization to grow and contribute their best. That is why I have decided to work primarily with CEOs, Boards, and Consultants. This is where the leverage in most business systems is the greatest. By liberating leadership’s access to their greater capabilities you can have a much greater impact on the system and ultimately on the world. People at the top and those entrusted with leadership responsibilities, including consultants and advisors, are not exempt from biological and psychological development. Like or not, all of our brains were wired to interpret ambiguity as danger and to form habits that were adapted to our early learning contexts. Remember, these habits are compromises that often require us to remove valuable parts of ourselves from consciousness.
These are givens for everyone. But the model of ourselves and our world we leave the starting gate with can only win races on familiar tracks. But life gives us a big opportunity in our mid-twenties. After our mid-twenties we have the biological opportunity to significantly re-wire our brain. This biological change offers us a golden opportunity to begin learning about ourselves as we truly are. Many (probably most) of us, especially those who are smart enough and enjoying enough relative success to negotiate work, families and careers often choose to postpone payday—frequently until it is too late. This is one of the disadvantages of having a lot of functional ability, even if it is only a fraction of our innate capacity. We define success in a limited way afforded by our functional ability and believe that we have somehow achieved complete access to our real capacity. Meanwhile, our real self cries to be liberated and our workers and families signal us that we may be missing something important and hiding behind our institutional power and relative success.
Learning how one’s mind works requires that we face the chronically endured pain that we all hold inside of us throughout much of our lives. It is simply the belief that we are not enough and will never be enough. It is a false belief but resonates below the surface of our lives because we sense that we do not have access to all of our potential. Our task is to use our success as an opportunity to explore ourselves further. Seeing ourselves as we truly are is liberating for us and for others whose lives we affect. Because our pre-frontal cortex contains the highest concentration of endorphins, when we are using our brain equipment optimally we experience positive emotions. We are also in the best position to stimulate mirror neurons in those that we seek to influence. The beauty of our design is that we only have access to our real power and genius when we lean steadfastly towards the good in our own lives. It doesn’t matter whether we are relating to others as a worker, boss, friend, parent or consultant. Optimal influence is a function of self-knowledge and liberation born of courage creates abundance in our lives and that of others whose lives we touch.
This is a great point. Life is constantly reminding us in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways that we are leaving too many of our unrealized gifts on the table. We are focusing on our gratification and external indices of our status and not so much on our responsibility to share our God given gifts with the world.
M. Scott Peck expressed this beautifully when he described the process of enlarging our lives. “The unconscious is always one step ahead of the conscious mind in either the right or wrong direction. It is therefore impossible ever to know that what you are doing is right, since knowing is a function of consciousness. However, if your will is steadfastly to the good, and you are willing to suffer fully when the good seems ambiguous (which, to me, is about ninety-eight percent of the time), then your unconscious will always be one step ahead of your conscious mind in the right direction…only you won’t have the luxury of knowing it at the time you’re doing it. Indeed, you will do the right thing precisely because you have been willing to forgo that luxury”
In other words, they try to reduce the pain of not knowing too quickly, and go back to the familiar path that values what is known over what is unknown to us. This is how we stay asleep—trying to use the familiar tools offers the conscious comfort of an “at home” feeling but limits us to cultivating the same old fields with the same old tools. We are always at that fork on the road but seeing it requires taking on responsibility for liberating the genius within us.
One way to disrupt this process is to make “doing the harder thing” the default in our lives. It forces our brain to create hierarchical circuits with connections to the pre-frontal areas of our brain. Like exercise it is extra hard work at the beginning but increases fitness, health and ability over time.
People with high functional ability who lack self-knowledge can acquire powerful leadership positions based on self-focused drives (see, Return on Character by Fred Kiel). But, these people extract a great price from their families, their workers, and unknowingly from themselves. They postpone or forgo the work required to achieve genuine maturity, often for a lifetime, even as they escape their truer selves. Who among us has not worked for such a person or known someone who has?
Human beings remain dependent for a relatively long time. The transition from being an infant to becoming a chronological adult is not an easy one. The transformation from chronological adult to mature adult is no less difficult. We all learned to accommodate (compromise) to parental demands, and formed primitive beliefs about ourselves, significant others and the world. All of this became imbedded over time into an untested map (i.e., mental model) to guide us in negotiating our life. As our early beliefs developed into mental models, an invisible army gradually assembled to protect its unchallenged contents--our biases, relationships, cognitive circuits, emotional habits, etc. Once this early organization is in place we rarely question our perceptions of self and others, and over time begin to equate them with objective reality. Too many of us continue to rely on this strained equation for an entire lifetime.
With this in mind, it is useful to distinguish between self-awareness and self-knowledge. Think of self-awareness as the person who proudly states, "I know I am hard to deal with but that's just me." They may be self-aware but still remain clueless about the real costs their lack of curiosity about self is extracting. Ironically, they are appraising themselves through the lenses of unchallenged mental models. Many business books, coaches and consultants now recognize the importance of being emotionally self-aware and even know how to measure it. But, is that enough to meaningfully transform our lives?
Important questions rarely get asked, much less answered: What is the function of being so hard to deal with? What fear is it covering? How can I transform myself so that these and other destructive habits become serenely recalled memories? How can I reduce gulf between my functional ability and much larger capacity? Genuine answers to these questions require knowing ourselves as we truly are and understanding how our mind works.
Self-awareness is necessary to gain self-knowledge but the difference between the two is profound. Self-knowledge changes everything--your concentration, compassion, responsibility, capacity for empathy, interpersonal effectiveness etc. Once you begin to question everything you are on the path to knowing yourself as you truly are.
This is the level of engagement we offer top level leaders who recognize that transforming their organizations begins by first transforming themselves.
In his wonderful book Return on Character, Fred Kiel shows a five times greater ROI for companies led by high virtue persons with the following habits:
A first step CEOs and top leaders can take is to become participant observers of themselves. Participant Observers are people who are curious about self and willing to explore how their mind works. They are willing to engage with the understanding that they might see things differently tomorrow and hence are dedicated to reality at all costs. They recognize that we are able to effectively access and use only a fraction of our innate ability and learn to reserve a portion of their ego to observe themselves in action with beginners mind. They are looking at themselves with distorted lenses but know it and are willing to question everything and still engage without the certainty that their mental model in use is the best available at the time. In the end they are curious about self, fully engaged and open to revision knowing they are offering their best at the time.
American philosopher and Yale professor Brand Blanchard offered the following observation on the importance of self-knowledge: “The richness of a life depends not only on the amount of happiness it achieves but on finding out who one is, that is about ones unique combination of powers, and then discovering through experiment and reflection what course of life will fulfill those powers most completely.”
Once we commit to discover and develop our greatest powers we can invest our true wealth which places us above the realm of competition and into the realm of excellence. Creation is the outcome of excellence. Knowledge is power, but self-knowledge can liberate power beyond measure. It shows on our faces, is apparent in our speech and is evident in the respect we receive from others and in our ability to influence them. The big challenge in life is gaining greater access to the potential that is already in us and liberating the true source of our creative energy.
CEOE will assess and coach your leadership team to increase the likelihood of success and based on findings suggests ways to develop their abilities and relationship with themselves at the same time. In other words, we can offer greater access to themselves and by extension more genuine commitment to your company's vision.
Research studies by Gallup shows that of approximately 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs, 70% are disengaged or actively disengaged at work. Only 30% are inspired at work, and engaged employees experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes!
New CEO squeezes more out of the 30% that people bring to work but rarely tap into the unrealized 70%; which represents the greatest potential source of unrealized energy.
We coach, teach and train your leadership team to unleash the 70% of unrealized energy to increase effectiveness as measured by engagement, productively, and profitability.
Most of us refer to change as acquiring new knowledge, skills or developing exiting aptitudes to a higher level of refinement. These are almost always based on the assumption that our view of ourselves and the world (the structure and function of our consciousness) is accurate and unchangeable. We often do the work to learn new things but not at the risk of disrupting our current level of self-knowledge. We stay in the safe zone where there is lots of external work to do and much less risk. Progress is measured relative to what we believe and have always believed about ourselves.
The capacity of babies to imitate others is online from birth. They can stick their tongue out, yawn, and purse their lips imitating the facial expressions of an adult. This has been demonstrated as early as 41 minutes of age! This occurs because mirror neurons that are hardwired at birth have survival value by creating a resonant relationship with the caregiver.
Richard Boyatzis who holds a graduate engineering degree from MIT and a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard is doing some remarkable research on motor neurons at Case Western Reserve. Using fMRI (blood flow) he has demonstrated that resonant leaders stimulated mirror neurons in their direct reports and dissonant leaders shut down mirror neuron activation in those same groups immediately following communication. The litmus test of an effective leader, consultant or advisor is simply this: You are an effective leader if once people leave a conversation with you they feel inspired. From my perspective this is also a measure of our relationship with our self.
In his words, "Effective coaching and mentoring is crucial to the success of individuals and organizations, yet relatively little is known about its neural underpinnings. Coaching and mentoring to the Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) emphasizes compassion for the individual's hopes and dreams and has been shown to enhance a behavioral change. In contrast, coaching to the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA), by focusing on externally defined criteria for success and the individual's weaknesses in relation to them, does not show sustained change. We used fMRI to measure BOLD responses associated with these two coaching styles."
How can we create the right kind of disruption to “rewire” our brains and override stagnating habits that have outlived their adaptive value to us? Here are a few powerful points:
One of the things that excited me so much about The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge was the tremendous insight displayed in identifying five disciplines that must be mastered to create a leaning organization. A leaning organization is defined as continually enlarging its capacity to create its own future. In order to accomplish this, an organization had to master five disciplines: Shared Vision (SV), Personal Mastery (PM), Mental Models (MM), Team Learning (TL) and Systems Thinking (ST). Let me offer highly summarized explanations here:
As a psychologist I immediately realized that this applies to any system, even individuals. We ourselves are learning organizations or have the potential to become one. Just as mental models influence the culture of an organization; our mental models can limit or enhance our capacity to accomplish what we want and our ability to create. One thing is certain. Relying on your early mental model of the world will only offer relative success at best. You may do well in some domains that are important to you but they are likely to limit you proportionally in other areas of your life. I also realized that interpersonal effectiveness (ability to influence others in positive ways) requires personal mastery and personal mastery really involves all of the disciplines. In my view the most fundamental are mental models and personal mastery. Once these are working together one can see the self and others more objectively and common purpose (shared vision) and interpersonal connectedness (team learning) becomes possible. Once we are addressing these four disciplines we begin to see the big picture or the systemic structure of our lives or our organization and systems thinking becomes our new default.
It is not too much of a stretch to see how mental models (beliefs), personal mastery (knowing ourselves objectively), team learning (interpersonal effectiveness) and shared vision (sharing our dreams with others) can apply to ourselves as energy systems connected to other energy systems. All win, the individual, the company and relationships in general.