This picture is Taz (the dog) in what I guess you could say is his T.A.O. pose… Transparent, Authentic, and Open. It’s a Martha Beck term for living in integrity with yourself and it means to "know what you know, feel what you feel, say what you mean and do no harm". It’s a philosophy I have attempted to live even more in my role as a leader in 2017.
Whether you find yourself in a position of being a leader through a chain of events or by your own drive, or both… there are many lessons within that can show you a great deal about yourself. My own path to leadership is not unlike others in that I didn’t get there alone. Without a support system of some type it is really difficult to fully show up in a way that will make it clear that you can lead others. No one arrives to their current point in their life without the help (either intentional or through opposition) of other people.
A really interesting lesson I have had the opportunity to experience is having the majority of my main support system... removed. Death, terminations, endings leave you with a lot of choices to make on your own that you may have come to rely on your support system for back-up to insure you were either on the right path or that even if you screw up, someone would tell you “it will be okay!” The Divine has a funny way of showing up disguised as your life as they say. These huge challenges come along and you have to decide if it will make you, or break you. With a big shift in the dynamic of your support system – the challenges throw you some major curve balls.
The deaths of family members and my main mentor – all happened within a short period. When I found myself with a choice – step up or run away and join the circus… I had to make that choice pretty much moment to moment, most days, for a couple of YEARS! My confidence was in hiding. I’d pony up each day, go to the office and do my best impression of a confident woman. For half my life, I had relied on my support system – people I could bounce things off of, get perspective from, check-in with to see if I was on track. When that is suddenly removed you realize that you had been gaining a good percentage of your confidence from that support. It is that knowing there is another human on your side who accepts and understands you that we all probably take for granted. None of us becomes who we are on our own. Pretty much every person who touches our lives has a part in who we choose to become. Ultimately, we each have to determine for ourselves who we will be – yet that road is lined with hundreds if not thousands of people who contribute in some way to that sum total of who we become.
This need to be understood and accepted is probably a part of what blogs like this one are about! No wonder there are over 3 MILLION blog posts per day on the web!!! We all have a need and desire to be understood, heard and accepted. To perhaps know we are okay in some way. It's interesting too because to put your story out there, is vulnerable and there is certainly the chance that there will be those who disagree, oppose or want to hurt you because of it. A paradox!!!
So, I felt I was kind of out there, unprotected, vulnerable and while there were still a handful of people who made it clear they supported me – it was a new set of VIPs to a certain extent. I set out to be even more “T.A.O.”… Transparent, Authentic and Open in my life, especially at work. I wanted to uplift others, help people be their best selves, facilitate growth and be transparent. What I have learned about this - is that everyone is not able or willing to handle that framework.
In Spiral Dynamics it is indicated that about 80% of people want to avoid conflict at all cost, and want to be told what to do, how to do it and follow rules or guidelines. So not everyone is ready or capable of a more open, empowered structure obviously. One thing I feel I missed in my attempt to be more T.A.O., was that it doesn’t mean you show up as everyone’s "buddy". T.A.O. can potentially be seen by some as a license to take shots at you, think you are weak, and can actually ENABLE poor behavior in those who think T.A.O. means they get to know every detail of your life. But I also know why I went this route… my main support system was gone who had supplied me with the knowing that I was accepted, understood, loved – so I thought if I made friends with everyone, I could regain some of that component that I now realize, only I can ultimately supply for myself.
I used to make the statement which was taught to me by my trainer for Jazzercise instructor training… “When you start teaching – you are at about 20% comfort level and in the training program, we stretch you out of your comfort zone by 80 - 90%. Our plan is that when you leave the training, you will settle back somewhere higher the 20% and less than the 90%.” Difficult lessons stretch us and if we are open to them and have a desire to learn and grown, we won’t stay in that difficult part forever – yet we will be more afterward. Stretched. But you gotta do some work in order for that to happen.
My new mantra!
The combination of my efforts to be T.A.O. and the temporary demise of my confidence was a perfect storm that lead to some painful lessons that I am very, very grateful for now. My lessons are many, here are a few on my list right now…
So now for the expectations part of the lesson. My expectations of myself include: personal growth, transparent, honest, solution focused communications, doing what I can to help others who want help, self-love, self-respect, self-compassion and to own my own emotional shit - a.k.a...responsible for my own feelings and experience.
I feel that we really can’t expect from others, anything we aren’t expecting of ourselves. So I guess knowing what I expect of myself makes it clear what I expect from others:
Knowing what you expect of yourself, makes it really clear what you expect from others. Once you know this – boundaries, confidence, love AND leadership happen pretty much automatically. I’m not saying that I meet my own expectations 100% of the time! That’s what being human is all about for God’s sake! But knowing what I’m aiming at and what I expect from others sure makes it possible and likely that I will rise higher to a new set point each time I slip. Others in your life will slip too. It's what we all do AFTER the slip that determines who we are. Period.
So… what do YOU expect of yourself? We must all BE what it is we want to see in the world. Do you find that you don’t enjoy what you are noticing is showing up in your life???? Time to check-in with yourself. You are creating your experience with the focus of your thoughts, 1000% of the time. I recently heard Esther Hicks say “You have to unscramble your own energy before you know what to do.” Figure out what you appreciate, what’s working well, what you want to experience. Then BE those things, yourself.
Being understood, accepted, appreciated by others – all contribute to our confidence. If you don’t believe me, try going through a day or two without it. Many people in our world feel this way every single day. They feel rejected, misunderstood, judged – simply for being who they are. My experience at finding my way through those feelings certainly gives me empathy for those who live much of their lives feeling this way.
When it feels like that rug of being accepted and understood gets ripped out from under you, you get to learn to give those things to yourself. Then… you are FREE because you no longer are dependent on another to supply you with what we all must give to ourselves. You are free, and so is everyone else in your life. I am honored to get a chance to try and learn this for myself.
Sandy Edie Hansen
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