The late, great Joseph Campbell said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” The journey towards self-discovery is one I’ve experienced myself and witnessed in the lives of myriad executives I’ve coached over several decades.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as truthful, fair and honorable in our business dealings, friendships, and family affairs. We even pride ourselves on it. Sometimes we hold back in order to be diplomatic in business or politics, or to not hurt a loved one’s feelings and damage a relationship beyond repair, and we justify these exceptions accordingly. But experience has taught me that there are other limits to how open we can be with others – and those stem from our capacity to be honest with and about ourselves.
“I’m good at faking it.” ~ Janet Evanovich, Eleven on Top
Before assorted epiphanies allowed me to achieve the self awareness that is the foundation of emotional intelligence, of which self-honesty is the critical component, I was more in touch only with my intellectual intelligence. That and the socio-political values with which I was raised allowed me to get a high-status education, quite a few significant jobs, and participate in social action that served others – all of which I very much wanted to do.
Through my late twenties, I created a polished persona and it worked! I was a classic wounded healer, and while I accomplished a great deal, these masked internal demons were relentlessly driving me with little self-awareness. I acted from fear-based adaptive behavior that had served well as a protective shield from childhood traumas, but that I no longer needed and in fact, were damaging. I was knee-jerk reacting rather than proactively making choices.
The word “no” was not in my vocabulary. But I thought this was just what life was: difficult, filled with more downs than ups, and that everyone did what I was doing. I often found myself dealing with people I didn’t like, projects that were beneath my abilities, or other inappropriate situations.
“To thine own self be true” ~ Polonius in Hamlet, William ShakespeareDownload Article 500 Club