Being a leader in business is overwhelming and exhausting: constant problems to solve, perpetually feeling attacked, markets ever-changing, massive fear and instability in the world. The stress most executives endure is insane and inhumane.
Yet, through it all, leaders must appear strong, stoic, and confident. To admit to anyone how they really feel might undermine their image. To admit to themselves how they really feel might undermine their confidence.
Business leaders may appear to "have it all" and "have it all together", but deep down many are stressed out, dysfunctional, overworked, unfulfilled, and emotionally avoidant. They secretly struggle with relationship issues, lifelong insecurities, and impostor syndrome.
If you are a leader in business, I feel for you.
You may be brilliantly successful and the envy of your peers. You may have the house, the cars, the spouse, the kids, the exotic vacations, the country club membership, and the desired zip code. You may seem like you have it all and have it all together.
But secretly you're struggling. You feel empty and unfulfilled. You feel like a fraud or a failure. You feel disconnected from your spouse or kids. You can't seem to attract healthy, supportive relationships. You're exhausted and overwhelmed. Your stress-level is through the roof. You wonder, "What's wrong with me?" and "Is this all?" You may not know who to trust. You may feel very isolated and alone.
You're a master at fixing problems, so why can't you fix this? You're already running on all cylinders - what more can you do?
The truth is:
You aren't running on all cylinders.
In fact, you aren't even running on half of them.
Stay with me here.
Imagine that you have three mega "cylinders" inside you that can empower you to achieve all of the success, joy, and fulfillment you desire. Imagine they can help you reach your highest potential in every aspect of your life.
What if I told you that, no matter how hard you work, you will never reach this peak. Why not?
Because you're only running on one cylinder.
You aren't alone. For millennia, most of civilization has been running on this one cylinder - especially in business. This cylinder is brilliant at strategy and survival. It knows money and numbers. It is organized and productive. It's competitive and dominating. It gets s#$%t done. If you are successful in business, this one cylinder has served you extremely well.
However, despite its many talents, it lacks many others.
It's clueless about love. It's clueless about relationships. Emotions are a mystery to it. It doesn't feel empathy and compassion. It doesn't feel gratitude and joy. It doesn't know how to connect with your life's purpose, nor what it means to honor your truth. It's lost on how to envision a brilliant, fulfilling future for you. It's highly intellectual but not intuitive, nor inspired.
This "cylinder" helps you survive, but it cannot help you thrive and feel alive. Why not?
Because it was never designed to.
Most business leaders run their lives on this one cylinder alone. However, when this cylinder is expected to do the work of all three, it becomes dysfunctional, overheated, and dangerously explosive. You end up feeling exhausted, uninspired, controlling, out-of-control, disconnected, overwhelmed, inadequate, critical, self-critical, depressed, rageful, and deeply conflicted.
This one cylinder can fix a lot of problems, but it cannot fix the ones it created by trying to do the job of all three. You need the other two.
Before I introduce them to you, though, I have a question:
How do you want to feel in your life?
You may never have asked yourself this question, and no one may have ever asked it of you either. After all, discussing feelings in business is taboo. However, I invite you to really sit with it and see what comes up for you.
Do you want to feel strong, fearless, clear? Do you want to feel whole, authentic, alive? Do you want to feel accepted, connected, loved? Do you want to deeply enjoy your life, your successes, and the people around you? Do you want to feel both powerful and at peace?
Everything we do, we do for a feeling.
Either we're trying to feel one way, or we're trying to avoid feeling another way. We may rationalize our choices with logic and facts, but feelings are always the underlying motivators.
For example, ask people on the street, "How much money do you want in your bank account?", and many of them will say, "I want a million dollars!" Ask them why, and they'll regale you with the debts they'd pay off, the car they'd buy, the job they'd quit, and the vacations they'd take. Ask them why they want those things, and they'll respond with, "I want to have fun!" "I want to be free!" "I want my family to be safe and secure." "I don't want to struggle anymore."
The truth is, they don't want a million dollars. They want the feelings they expect a million dollars will give them: freedom, security, happiness, protection, safety, not poor, not scared, etc. The same goes for relationships, jobs, skin creams, clothes, homes, cars, tax advisors, politicians, and everything else in life.
Everything we do, we do for a feeling.
So why are you doing what you're doing? What feelings have you been hoping to feel? All of this accumulating money, titles, awards, luxury, and other trappings of success - is it working?
Clearly, what your life looks like on the outside has little to do with how you feel on the inside. Therefore, in order to live a life that brings you deep fulfillment and pleasure, the question is not, "What do you want?" It's "How do you want to feel?"
What's the point of professional success if you don't feel any pleasure?
What's the point of being productive if you have no sense of purpose?
What's the point of being powerful if you don't feel at peace?
It is possible to have it all and be happy. But running on one cylinder won't cut it. You've got to honor the other two or else your entire system will collapse (if it hasn't already).
Through my work with students, inmates, and executives around the world, I've discovered that we all have within us three emPowers (a.k.a. "cylinders"). They empower us to be the presence we are here to be and live the lives we were divinely designed to live. Though we each possess unique expressions of these powers, their essences are the same.
The first emPower (and the one on which most business leaders over-rely) is what I call your inner Impresario. Your Impresario is the part of you that is logical, practical, strategic, organized, productive, analytical, and conscientious. It's deeply committed to your survival and to the necessities of life.
The other two that have been sadly undervalued and ignored are what I call your inner Free-Spirit and your inner Sovereign.
Your Free-Spirit is the part of you that is free, spontaneous, creative, joyful, expressive, loving, and innocent. It just wants to have fun, create, and feel loved. Though it could care less about survival, it is nevertheless a vital part of being alive. Without your inner Free-Spirit, you would feel no pleasure, no joy, and no enthusiasm for life.
Your Sovereign is the part of you that is intuitive, wise, independent, free-willed, self-reflective, soul-connected, and courageous. It is deeply committed to your life purpose and knows what is right and wrong for you - independently of what anyone else thinks or feels.
Your Impresario may be very adept at convincing you
to ignore your Free-Spirit and Sovereign. However, no matter how hard it tries,
it can never give you what they give you: pleasure, passion, creativity,
joy, inspiration, courage, freedom, love.
What's the point of having it all if you aren't enjoying it all, too?
Therefore, in order to fix what's at the core of the issues you face, all three emPowers must be honored. In fact, when emPowers are dishonored and disrespected, they transform into exPowers.
An Impresario that feels threatened or stressed can become critical, controlling, overbearing, domineering, destructive, and demeaning - a.k.a. a Controller. The most common example of a Controller is an inner critic.
When your Free-Spirit is attacked or oppressed, it can feel hurt, scared, neglected, and powerless - a.k.a. a Wounded. Clients of mine who have endured severe traumas and hardships often believe that their inner Free-Spirit died long ago. But it never dies. It may be shoved in a dark corner, crying and starving from neglect, but it is still there in the form of a Wounded, waiting to be loved and embraced.
When your Sovereign perceives that you're in physical or emotional danger, it can become defensive, angry, righteous, arrogant, and even violent - a.k.a. a Defender. If you are easily triggered to anger or bullying behavior, that's a Defender acting up, trying to protect you whatever way it knows.
exPowers block us from feeling fully at peace and fully empowered. Most form during childhood, when we are at the mercy of our environment and less able to protect ourselves. Then, over time, as more of our emPowers formed into exPowers, we become increasingly fragmented, conflicted, and disconnected from our truth.
So how do you become whole again? How do you reconnect with your truth? How do you free yourself of exPowers and finally feel at peace?
Heal exPowers and honor emPowers.
Healing your exPowers involves a process of acknowledging and embracing them so that they transform back into emPowers. The Drawing Out Process® is the technique I created to achieve this. It can permanently transform an exPower back into an emPower in two hours or less.
As for honoring your emPowers, you can start right now.
Close your eyes, and ask your Free-Spirit, Impresario, and Sovereign separately:
"What's one small thing I can do today that would feel good for you?"
Trust what they say, write down their responses, and do what each tells you to do. Do this every morning for a week, and see what happens. Notice how you feel.
A client of mine who had been suffering from severe burnout describes what happened for her with just this one step:
"It's been really incredible. If left to my own devices, I'll let my Impresario run the show all day long. But, as soon as I bring in the wisdom of all three, the whole thing takes a new shape. I feel really balanced, and my life is so much more rich and varied! Also, I no longer feel like I need other people to fill voids because all parts of me are acknowledged from within!"
All of the love, wisdom, and courage you need is within you. All of the intuition, intellect, and inspiration you seek is within you. All of the wholeness, clarity, and peace you desire is within you. They may have been disguised in struggle for decades, but they are all there, waiting to be honored and freed.
Our world needs leaders who are firing on all cylinders - not secretly dying on one.
If being a wise, enlightened leader is what you envision for yourself, your family, and the people you lead, talk to me about healing your exPowers and honoring your emPowers. Their love, wisdom, and strength can fuel you to attain the life, love, leadership, and success you truly desire.