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Waking up to the next level
published by , on 27/02/2015

In this blogpost I share my notes on a workshop I recently participated in. It is titled ‘Raising Your Game’ and it was conducted by Change Management guru (and friend) Daryl Conner.

Waking Up

The workshop didn’t promise to bring any answers on the level of expertise. To the contrary, what we got out of it were more questions. The purpose of the workshop is to walk out with a clearer understanding of our character (who we are) and presence (how we show up); and somehow it seems that questions are better suited for that purpose than answers. A weird approach at first sight, right?

Weird indeed. And also unique because there are not that many opportunities for change practitioners to reflect on the alignment between how we show up and who we are. Yet, getting clarity on this alignment is essential to find meaning.

It turns out to be about waking up to my work and looking at it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Waking up is how we access our character and our presence.

For instance, what if we took our profession as seriously as a physician or a musician does? Would we come to work with the same level of preparedness as we currently do? Go ahead and ponder over that question for a bit, and you will find yourself talking to the reflection in the mirror saying “What is going on here?”, “What am I doing here?”, and “Is this leading anywhere?”.

Those are healthy signs of waking up. But then what?

Mastery

As a change practitioner, what can others depend on you to always promote/protect?

This question immediately propels us into the essence of mastery. If the thing we promote/protect is not reflecting our true nature, there is still a long way to go to mastery.

Play the music you love and are uniquely good at, for people who want to hear it.

The way we deploy our toolkit and bring it to the client situation makes a difference. Or not. We can either adapt to what others want to hear, or play according to ‘who we are’.

There is a choice; but it takes time to unveil and see what we are uniquely good at and love to do. The next step is to bring that – exactly that – to the client.

It’s a non negotiable – mastery requires that you play your own music.

How many times do I adapt to a client situation in order to fit in? How long am I prepared to continue that way? When will I open my eyes to the fact that this ‘fitting in’ is what is holding me back from achieving mastery?

Oh – and by the way – there are a lot of good reasons to fit in and play safe, but for once – just this time – let’s not go there and focus on the path to mastery instead. If I were to take a snapshot of the hurdles on the path to my mastery, I could easily sum them up:

  • Discovery of my own music and gaining precision of what it is I am capable of bringing to the world. Right now I have a strong sense that it is about infusing tense situations with my creativity and in connecting people on a human level. It’s time to get more precision around that.
  • Courage or rather being aware of the chameleon law. In a lot of client situations I have the tendency to comply to the influences of social pressure. I fall prey to my reptile-brain reflex to fit in and be polite and not rock the boat.
  • Vulnerability – and that one is exactly placed right behind the hurdle of courage, because once I get beyond the point of courage (sometimes it happens :-)) I often find myself nested in a king’s chair, claiming stuff because it is my damn right to do so. Always quite embarrassing in hindsight…
  • Uncertainty – I saved the best for the last. I still have no clue how to embrace uncertainty – except when I can give it my full conscious presence.

You can see my hurdles depicted in the snapshot below – and for completeness sake I have added the pitfall next to each hurdle that comes at the expense of taking the exit instead.

Walking on the Edge…It’s only a matter of time

What do you wish wasn’t true about yourself?

What do you think is keeping you from more boldly conveying all you have to offer? Who or what is more important to satisfy than fully conveying who you are?

In my work, there are two invoices:

  1. there is the invoice for my consulting services. It is based on what we commonly describe as a ‘time-and-material basis’; i.e.: I invoice my time spent at the client. Clients pay me to deploy my toolbox and to apply it with precision. It’s the invoice for ‘how I show up’ (my presence).
  2. there is the invoice that I send to myself for the portion of my lifetime that is consumed when I am with the client. If it is not living up to my expectations of who I am (my character), the amounts on that invoice are high. It’s the invoice of the gap between how I show up and who I truly am.

So when will I finally start moving along that path to mastery? Answer: the moment that the total amount of the second invoice is getting higher than the total amount of the first. The price I pay for being inauthentic increases as I get older – it is a straight line to burnout. The irony of it all is that I have been there before.

New Beginnings

The path to deeper commitment is through doubt.

How do I recognize clients who appreciate my music? Well, it turns out to function like the basic mechanics of a radar. Radars don’t catch any signal unless they send out a signal in the first place. If I am not clear about the kind of practitioner I truly am in the first place it’s kind of hard to find customers that bounce back their footprint on my dimensions. This is why I have put ‘Discovery’ as the first hurdle on my path to mastery.

It’s funny how we always tell our clients to embrace the unknown and to boldly step out of their comfort zone. As Ze Frank describes it in the video that I included above, I find myself stuck in the place between 0 and 1. This workshop has gotten me on the edge of my comfort zone. As a seasoned organizational change practitioner I have a confession to make: sitting on the edge of my comfort zone I am staring into a canyon. No way back and no idea on how to move forward.

It’s time to get in touch with who I am when I am not trying to please someone. Then, it is up to ME to start creating from that position.

There is honor in doing this work.

More on character and presence on the blog of Daryl Conner.

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