Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.
Do you measure yourself by the number of your flaws, rather than by the sum of your greatness?
Diminishing yourself is contrary to the human brain’s design, which is to be an amazingly, powerful, creation machine. It innovates and generates new ideas that build bridges where no one thought they could (the Hoover Dam). It launches us to the moon based on a fantastic idea (Kennedy’s vision). It constructs an iconic structure without the technical knowledge, tools or equipment to do so (Sydney Opera House). The list goes on and on. In each of these cases, “experts” first said: "No, you can't do it!"
And yet, these breakthrough ideas were formed in the minds of visionaries, who had confidence in themselves and overcame the “can’t be done” thinking to achieve the remarkable results we take for granted today. They broke out of their own and other's "shadow mind" to pave the way for living beyond current intellectual restrictions.
The same mind that produces astounding reality is the same mind that can hold you small—if that is how you choose to employ it. Your “shadow mind” tells you-you’re too busy to think about anything except fixing all your perceived limitations. It absorbs you in firefighting activities which keep you so busy; you never show up as a leader.
The busy-ness itself creates a frenzy closing you off even further from engaging in an I am, and I can attitude which is at the core of who you are. Eventually, you become so removed from seeking possibilities you don’t even know how to tap into the creative and expressive being you are meant to be. It’s a vicious cycle.
How does this relate to your career? Only in every single project or process or idea you’ve ever had! It may impact your presence in meetings. Do you ever find yourself with an opinion you’re ready to share only to tell yourself: “No, that’s ‘dumb’” or “I’ll look foolish” or “It’s not good enough?”
Or it may show up as a distraction that has you focusing on comparison-based thinking. Your “shadow mind” has you believing you aren’t as informed, talented, respected, or capable as someone else, which leads to playing it safe. Comparison thinking can also take you down a path of criticizing others. Women especially, tend to cast a light derogatory comment at someone else’s accomplishments from a zero-sum mentality. Somehow you believe that if others are winning, you can’t be too.
That is the “shadow mind” in action, impacting how you see yourself and how you project yourself to others. It curbs your career progress sometimes subtly and sometimes dramatically.
So, consciously, turn away from your “shadow mind” and embrace possibility! Embrace the greatness of who you are created to be! See yourself in a context that is grander than you’ve ever imagined! Unleash yourself! Stand in the light of your magnificence!!”
Remember, what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”
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