A friend recently told a story to a conference crowd:
A traveler climbing a hill saw another man ahead of him running and running. Then he saw the man stop. Then he began running fast again. And again, he stopped. Over and over he repeated this cycle.
Eventually the traveler caught up to the running man. He asked, “Tell, me. Why do you keep running and running, then stop?” The man said, “I run because I have to do many things. I stop because I want my soul to come with me.”
I Want to Bring My Soul
A powerful construct in the corporate world is that “we don’t do emotions, here. We are logical and rational.” This is a fiction, as it’s impossible to separate our emotions from our body and brain – it’s all one unit.
Yet the impact of this story line, repeated over and again by senior leaders, is that people eventually feel as though they have to leave a piece of themselves at home, or keep those pieces hidden in a sealed box while at work. Ironically, this is as true for front-line workers as it is for the leaders themselves.
A frequent want/desire/yearning among my clients is to be “genuine” or “authentic” at work. They feel uncomfortable being who they truly are.
Yikes! They want to bring their soul to work, and are afraid that if they do, they will be dismissed as somehow weak or not effective in their jobs. I always find this narrative fascinating, as academic research and science (which ought to appeal to the logical mind) proves over and again that leaders who have high Emotional Intelligence and who focus on building Trust (Hello, emotion!) at work are far more effective than those who deal only in the cognitive space.
Yet the myth persists: I cannot be fully myself and be taken “seriously” at work.
The most powerful coaching sessions I experience are those in which I bring my client into their body and they learn to connect with their personal power and dignity; from that place, they find it easier to hold confidence and empower themselves to BE themselves. Often, all they needed was permission – from themselves! – to bring their whole self to work. And from there magic can happen.