Leadership: Relief From Posing

leadership and posingDo you ever wish you could just be you, be yourself? Do you also struggle for balance in your life? One of my fellow Vistage Chairs recently used the term "relief from posing" in a conversation about one of the benefits members of Vistage Groups experience. I was immediately struck by how she captured an observation I have made about Vistage membership over the years and how simply and accurately that little phrase expresses such an important experience. The idea that you could have a place where you can just be you...the good, the bad & the ugly...may seem remote or even unachievable on a regular basis and yet, think how great it would feel to be able to regularly access that experience. 

As I have reflected on her phrase, I see how it also relates to the idea of an integrated life versus a balanced life. In the pursuit of a balanced life, you may spend a tremendous amount of effort trying to be all things to all people. You may also feel a high degree of stress at failing regularly. You may find yourself saying "I need to____" (fill in the blanks) and apologizing regularly. It's all about which constituency you are failing at the moment.

An Integrated Life

The antidote to the hopeless pursuit of a balanced life is to focus on an integrated life - being able to be who you are and be true to your values everywhere in your life. You don't have to pose anywhere. 

The first requirement to even approach an integrated life is to become comfortable in your own skin.  It means giving yourself permission to be the person that only you were genetically encoded to in the world. As the poet and management consultant David Whyte says "the soul would rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else's.” It means being all you can be, fully self-expressed, and let the world choose how much of that it wants and where it wants it.

While you may at first be thinking about potential threats to your income generating ability. The surprise is that when you are doing what you love, the money will follow. One of the less obvious areas where you might appreciate relief from posing is within your own family. Typically you face a complex web of expectations coming from many directions in your family. For example, Dr. Brene Brown talks about a man who approached her at a book signing saying "my wife and daughter would rather see me die than fall off my white horse." What's your version of that story? Your job is to notice how you set that kind of experience up or how you collude with such an expectation unconsciously. If you stop the collusion and be yourself, what will happen? Will it really happen or is it just a fearful belief? Are you willing to go for it and find out?