All Posts Tagged ‘leadership


From Hero to Hermit: The Art of Letting Go!

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Archetypes Art of Letting Go

Participating in a ritual is an act of letting go. By creating sacred space every day, even for 5 minutes, we consciously choose to step into a space of no interruptions, of respite from the urgency and the demands of the day. We let go of the busy self.

Have you noticed that each of the major events in our lives calls for a ritual that has storytelling at the core?  We get married, and special friends are chosen to tell stories about the bride and groom; at a funeral we honor the ones who passed with stories of remembrance; at bat and bar mitzvah we tell stories about possibilities, love for and protection of the young.

Yet there are too many difficulties and transitions in our modern, hectic and complex lives, situations through which we go alone, without a tribe or a community to hold us tightly, without creating sacred space where we acknowledge and release that which does not serve us anymore; without a ritual to call onto new, fresh possibilities, without being seen or heard, trying to put on a brave face, hiding our perceived failures, and trying to move on. With many internal and external old and new “stories,” competing for our attention, it is easy to get stuck

In this space of quiet time, the ritual space, we make room for the magic of the possibility– we transition from asleep to awake, or vice versa, from lack of clarity to having direction, from being stuck to inspired, and from being busy to being relaxed. We make coffee, or tea, stretch, light a candle, read a poem, dance, meditate or breathe, tell ourselves a grand story about how the day will go, and for a few minutes we live in universal time.

In the Art of Letting Go we invite people to join in a ritual of play, acting and storytelling. The participants embody old emotions so that they can let go of them. They embody new possibilities,  to be able to embrace them.

We guide the participants through a process that helps them expand their breathing, their choices, their inner space, so that they can get to a place where they feel comfortable in their own skin. ­The role of the guide is to point towards possibilities, and to support the participant to structure her own process, not to give her solutions.

Yet, how do we manage to create a ritual for a group of strangers who are working on different things and who may not feel at ease to share their personal stories or inner struggles with others?

We invite them to tell stories through archetypes, or through archetypal characters. One such archetype (both male and female) is the Hero. The dark side of the Hero is that she is battling on behalf of the others, always, and unless she sets strong boundaries courageously, her vital energy may be depleted. Most of the times, modern Heroes are depleted.

The participant starts telling her story from a larger perspective (The Hero), and does not need to give personal details to make her story true and poignant. As she delights in storytelling, she is able to detach and see some blind spots, she may become inspired, and she may experience for herself what letting go feels like, and what her transition and possibilities may be. Furthermore, by telling the story of her own “battles,” and doubts (it is really difficult to abdicate from the Hero’s role), she may inspire others to experience and welcome their own “Hero.”

Telling the “story” from the perspective of an archetype frees the participant from defensiveness, from repeating old patterns and allows her to connect with her higher self and with the larger community in healthier ways.  We do not need personal details to be able to understand the essence of a person’s story. Love. heartache, sadness, lust are universal themes. In this environment, one person’s epiphany becomes another person’s release.

In such a group, synchronicity abounds. One person may live the Hero’s difficult story and may yearn to become the Hermit in order to hide from the world for a while, and to replenish. Yet another person in the same group, may have lived the Hermit’s story for a while, and now may yearn to return to the world and be a Hero.  Through shared experiences, these two strangers meet in the middle of their transition path.  Embodying fears and desires they may experience catharsis and personal healing. The release of old stories, in a space structured as a theater play, becomes easier, magical even, and opens possibilities for deeper vitality, compassion for others and for one’s Self.

In one workshop, the “Hero” was depleted and experiencing painful physical symptoms. As she started exploring the journey from Hero to Hermit, and as she was embodying her personal deep emotions and releasing them, her physical symptoms subsided considerably.

Transitions, loss, coming together, moving apart, letting go of all desires or dreams, all these important moments need and deserve a ritual that allows one to close old chapters and to open new ones.

A ritual can be something as small as preparing coffee or tea mindfully, every morning, taking a moment to relax, to breathe deeply, to pay attention to one’s body, to read the news or simply to enjoy a moment of peace before the day begins.

To make the small ritual just a bit more elaborate, one could add an intention daily—for instance to be a better artist, a better storyteller, a person who is good with money, a better parent, partner, or sibling.  One can add a series of repetitive actions that engage the physical and the creative self, such as stretching, writing a paragraph, drawing symbols, or mandalas, solving a puzzle, etc. Directing the mind and the body towards a goal daily, even as briefly as a few minutes, helps one realign with one’s larger purpose in life. As we step into the daily ritual, we have an opportunity to let go of fears and anxiety and to become centered, strong, back into “the body.”  We don’t always, but we have THE opportunity to “embody” new possibilities, literally.

A ritual can be something larger and more elaborate such as a reunion, a retreat or a planned w-end meeting with brothers and sisters, blood siblings, or chosen “siblings. During a larger ritual, participants may tell stories, be “seen” and “held” inside the sacred space of love and empathy. The rules that work best are simple: no judgement, no advice and no interruptions. Being “seen” and “heard” works miracles as it allows us to find and trust our inner voice.

I have developed The Art of Letting Go as a performance, as a ritual in itself, where the participants bring old and new identities or “selves”, learn how to transition into new situations, by embodying emotions, and by releasing them. We use creative means such as storytelling, psychodrama, enacting archetypes, drawing and mind maps.

If you are inspired to create a small ritual for yourself, at home, this is easy to do. You set up a space where you can be alone for even 5 minutes, you create an intention (even something easy such as breathing 20 times mindfully, works), you connect with your body and spirit in any way that gives you delight and enhances your aliveness. If you wish, you can write a one paragraph story about the great day ahead of you, a day when you conquer a challenge, for instance. Try it consistently for 30 days. Observe what happens in your life during that time. You may be in for a treat!



On Not Fitting In!

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blind spot

A lot of people feel that they do not fit in. I hear a lot of talk about being too young or too old, too poor, too fearful, too unloved, too fat, or too depressed to fit in and to be accepted.  Where do we start the journey towards fitting in into our own lives, first?  I start with the blind spots, always. They are the gate to building your personal legend!

Why should we explore blind spots?  Sometimes, we do not know that our perceptions and our inability to “see” are the obstacles to the happy life we envision. Learning to “see,” means learning to clear obstacles.  And with clearing obstacles, there is a lot of energy that is released towards creating what we desire.

Recently, at a friends’ house, around the dinner table in a perfectly friendly environment, a guest started sharing with friends his frustration as a recruiter with various candidates applying for a particular position.

They are all the same, he said. Not one is different. Not one makes me want to click on and open their resume. They all claim that they are “best suited” or the “perfect candidate” for a position and they have no idea what huge amounts of emails I have to sift from to get one good candidate. They all go on and on with their own accomplishments, thinking that it’s what sets them apart from the other candidates.

Most of the dinner participants were stunned, and embarrassed, as some of them were themselves applying for new positions in various fields. One dared to speak–

“Yes, but recruiters and HR people never share what is truly important to them. How can we guess what you need? Based on the job requirements, we try to tell you that we are great at the job, that we have done it before and that we can do it again, even better. It’s so unfair!”

Oh, no, the recruiter said –“you are all trying to fit in, and to make yourself into what you think that I want to hear from you.”

Stories collide. Everybody is right, of course. And everybody lacks the perspective that would create a spectacular outcome.

There are so many examples like this, in which we are trying to do what we think that others– bosses, co-workers, family or team mates — expect from us. We don’t want to ask, for fear of looking foolish. We do not want to start a conversation,  as we are too tired and too disappointed with previous failures in communication. We just want things to get resolved. We do the same thing over and over again, and feel more and more exhausted with the lack of connection.

Is there a way to integrate different perspectives? Yes, there is!

Once I worked with a young man who asked for “career coaching.” He was incredibly talented, skilled, smart, energetic, and likable. Still, he was in his second year of looking for a job.  He thought he did not fit in.  What he needed was “attuning,” or leadership guidance so that he could become his best self, and so that he could own his unique gifts.

He was appraising himself from the employers’ perspective, trying to make himself into what each job required.  We worked quite a bit on his blind spots: what he feared most, and how he reacted when he was fearful, how defensive and impatient he became when he was hurt or disappointed, what his great gifts were, and what he wanted to create in his work, and what kind of people he wanted to work with. He started a project that was dear to his heart, without waiting for permission, or acceptance from others.

He went on courageously and peeled layer after layer, and soaked in all he could learned about himself.  He found out that most of the stories we was telling himself about work and about expectations were not true.  And then he went on courageously to be picky about work that he thought would help him build his personal legend.  Somehow, almost magically, doors started to open and he started being called into interviews.  Having learned what his blind spots were, he walked into each interview owning his power.

Working with blind spots is an invitation to explore and release old perceptions, and to shift towards a more courageous mindset. Shifting slowly, taking steps to creating more happiness and success are real possibilities, not dreams.

Where in your life, do you feel that you do not fit in?  Is this YOUR story?


Give Them Something Good To Talk About!

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Right now, a lot of employers aren’t thinking enough about how to truly engage their employees because they have the benefits of the dullest economic recovery working in their favor. Having most employees “thankful to have a job” doesn’t mean they are putting their passion to work for you. And if you think they are sitting quietly being ever o thankful you are deluding yourself. The water cooler has morphed into the smart phone and they are communicating with each other in ways that belie their facial expressions.

And all this “new” social networking isn’t new at all. Only the technology is new and it gives employers the opportunity to see the truth in a manner that was never available before — that is, if we care to know it.

A few short years ago while heading marketing for one of the top global health benefits providers, I had just come out of a meeting with the CEO and immediately called my own staff to provide all the answers to several issues. At the end of that meeting my head of research, MY HEAD OF RESEARCH… stood up and said, “I’m going outside to have a cigarette and find out what is really going on!”

At first I was really angered by that statement but then realized what he just told me… “people don’t believe any of these preplanned statements so we like to come up with our own truths…” I then wondered if more of us should take up smoking so we could go outside and find out what is really going on! Those smoker’s hamlets were basically liberated water coolers, allowing employees to say what they want and weigh in on what is going on with minimal risk of being ratted out. Being caught was minimal since no one in the C Suite would be caught dead smoking and the few that did would never break the Smoker’s Code…

So what does this mean and what does it have to do with anything?

  • Employees will talk and trust me, they will talk about you – so give them something good to talk about
  • Employees want to feel like they are part of something great – your company allows that opportunity – so give them something good to talk about!
  • An employee’s decision to work for you is a reflection on them. Therefore, it would only stand to reason that they desire to say something good about their employer – so again, give them something good to talk about!

The fact that so many employees are willing to bad mouth their employers demonstrates what a dismal job companies have done to truly engage their employees. It is also curious as to why that is — after all, human capital is one of their biggest investments and the only one that can take your inner knowledge with them if they decide to work elsewhere.

So what do you do? How do you take advantage of this social networking in a way that builds employee engagement and is good for your bottom line? Well, there isn’t a playbook that is good for all. But there are a few things you can keep in mind… most of it sounds like good parental advice, namely:

  • .. don’t spin. Take it all in! It’s great to get accolades but listen closely to your biggest critics and greatest critiques. Your employees have more knowledge than you about your products, services, customers, and operations. They want to succeed meaning they want you to succeed.
  • Pay closest attention to employees who are closest to your customers. Those who are in your customer service operations know your customers better than anyone. And they know your product better than anyone. They are the ones explaining when things go wrong and build the long term bonds that lead to a sustainable customer base.
  • In most cases, your customers stay with you because of your employees — not because of you. Strong relationships are forged between your employees and customers, leveraging that bond for continuous improvement will only help your business

Considering that your knowledge and best customer relationships are ingrained in your employee base, you can’t afford NOT to continuously engage with them. The technology today merely enables a better connection.

Author: Ed Faruolo


Rudeness and Incivility at Work. Dealing with the Poison!

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It’s never entirely the situation and it’s never entirely the person. It is the mix that determines whether things go well or go badly. What is truly interesting is what lies between the person and the situation.

The indicator for the graph below is co-worker incivility—the frequency of encountering rude or thoughtless behavior from colleagues. It shows a person quality—Attachment Anxiety—and a workgroup quality—Psychological Safety.

Attachment Anxiety is the extent to which people approach the social work lacking confidence. People scoring high on this quality are exceptionally concerned with the possibility of rejection or humiliation.

Psychological Safety is the quality of a workgroup.  Groups that score high on Psychological Safety encourage open, honest expression of views; those low on this quality are intolerant of dissent or diversity of opinion.

The graph makes the point that a group low in psychological safety (the blue line) is a less civil work place than one high in psychological safety (the orange line). Problems occur for people with a high level of attachment anxiety working in a psychologically unsafe workgroup. The dot on the upper right part of the graph indicates incivility that is roughly double the rate for that of people low on anxiety in psychologically unsafe workgroups.

Incivility Work






Dealing with the pattern of high anxiety/ unsafe environment can happen in two ways:

  1. Team building efforts towards increasing psychological safety could reduce uncivil encounters
  2. Greater insight into attachment anxiety could help people manage their participation in their workgroups

Workplace civility and respect can be improved, but there is no simple solution. A mix of approaches focusing on both the individuals and their workgroup dynamics can make a real difference.

Michael Leiter, Ph.D.



Finding The Blind Spots!

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We work with gifted and brave people who are depleted by constant work, by fear of not losing what they have, by constant lack of time, and by not being able to replenish. Deep inside there is profound anger—“is this all there is to life?”

Leadership is the quality of seeing what others do not see, and the ability to engage others in a higher possibility. How do you educate someone in that?

We work with groups where we see antagonistic patterns of interaction because everyone is exhausted and feels that they are not seen. We are able to move people from this space to a more authentic interaction using business games, storytelling, deep listening, appreciative inquiry and other innovative means. When we show teams what is possible, they lighten up and embrace new possibilities fully because they really want to live meaningfully! What is possible for you and your team?

Supporting leaders to see where their own triggers and blind spots are, how to find their higher vision, and how to find the courage to embrace it may be what is needed to spark the fire of leadership. In our experience, guiding people to create their own stories of possibilities, and helping them to listen to others deeply, turned out to be some of the best “education” in leadership.

Mostly, people “un-learn” a lot of the old ways, and get rid of the inner obstacles to their own greatness.

If the same situation arises at work, or in your life, simply changing the city you live in, or your job will not be enough. A change of patterns, of your way of engaging with others might be necessary. Have you noticed that technical fixes take one only so far?

We support teams to look beyond the immediate technical fixes and to seek an adaptive leadership model.  Attuning means finding an adaptive solution, diagnosing a situation correctly, coming to a solution from a deep understanding of a situation and with new ways of engaging.