The Beginning of a Leadership Journey
Lead Coach and Facilitator at Choose Leadership | Working with Purpose Driven Leaders and Organisations
momkey looking at its reflection in a mirrow

“That’s not me! I would never do that! And yet, I did do that, didn’t I?”

And so a leadership journey begins.

It is not uncommon for coaching clients to experience themselves saying or doing something which generates a feeling of embarrassment. While they share what they’ve said or done, they hasten to disavow their own behaviour. Why? Because it doesn’t fit with the sense of identity, the persona, that they have constructed for both external and internal consumption.  And that fulfills their deepest needs, which usually fall into three categories:

“Look at me.

  • I deserve to be liked because…
  • I deserve to be respected because… 
  • I deserve to be seen as successful because…”

Behaviours that threaten these self images are outside the pale.

The leadership coaching journey, if it were to be bottom lined, is often from 

  • “I am [likeable, respectable, successful, …]!” to 
  • “Who am I?” to
  • “Why am I?” to
  • “I choose to be.”

When we understand our internal ecosystem, we come to better understand why we do what we do and we become able to switch from automatic, reactive behaviour to choice. 

A powerful way to understand and work with our internal complexity is to see ourselves as multiple personalities, PARTS. For instance, the one who wants to make a change, and the one who wants to play it safe, the one who wants to be liked, and the one who needs to speak its truth. Once we understand our internal complexity, we can learn to unblend our creative, clear and calm SELF from PARTS that sometimes play up and steer us towards unhelpful behaviours.

In many ways my client was right when they said “That’s not me!” The part of them who said the thing that they disowned is not them. At least not their SELF. It was just a PART of them that played up.

Our PARTS, these older sub-personalities within us, are elements of our psychological ecosystem, and are typically old and frozen in time (think wounded child). They help us run our lives (managers), protect us from threats (firefighters), and some also may form our shadow (exiles). 

Our PARTS tend to overlook our age and our ability to deal with life. My PARTS often overlook the fact that I am a 54 year old adult and have the emotional maturity, resilience, wisdom, and confidence to deal with the exigencies of life. They have never grown and matured. They are stuck in time, prepared to defend me against hurt and pain, and thus they often overreact to situations I find myself in today.

I can shift from living from my reactive PARTS by recognising their presence, which helps me unblend from them and allows me to integrate them into my adult personality. In order to be able to do so, I need to keep doing my self-leadership work. That allows me to live consciously and show up in the world with intention. I can then choose to live from my calm, clear and compassionate SELF and become less likely to be hijacked by my inner circus of PARTS.

That is how I can make the shift from a mindset of “I am” to one of “I choose to be”.

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

If you would like more information on Parts work, check out this podcast with Guthrie Sayen, who has translated Dick Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems (IFS) framework into language accessible by coaches.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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