When I start working with a leader, the first thing I ask them is "Why are you here?"
What I want to know is what you really want to use your life for.
Most of our clients are highly accomplished, very successful, and, externally, appear to have it all handled.
But I know that the truth is, somewhere, beneath this shiny surface, there is something missing.
And this is the point where we start talking about your fundamental flaw.
You created your flaw
At some point along the way, every human has concluded that there is something fundamentally flawed with them.
We come by it honestly, developing it from a combination of observing how people interact with us, what earns us praise, what gets us punished, and so on.
The truth of the fundamental flaw is that you possess no such flaw — but that does nothing to prevent you from believing in it.
Here are some examples of fundamental flaws:
- I’m unreliable
- I’m a flake
- I'm bad at commitment
- I'm a loser
- I'm unlovable
- I'm terrible with money
From the day where you conclude the nature of your fundamental flaw, you become locked in a lifelong battle to overcome it.
You develop an infinite number of strategies to overcome this flaw.
And somewhere along the way, you forget about your fundamental flaw altogether and start relating to yourself as the strategies you've created to overcome the flaw.
You say things like "Oh, I just like keeping conversation light. I'm not someone that does depth and intimacy”.
Or, “I’m just naturally skeptical, it takes me a long time to create intimacy in a relationship”.
We go forward and find hobbies, careers and relationships where it serves us to continue acting out these strategies.
A life based out of your strategies
Consider how each of these strategies, designed to deal with the flaw of being a loser, would serve a lawyer:
- Constantly assess yourself for any exposed flaws and address them
- Constantly assess other people for their flaws so that you can attack them there if they ever become a threat
- Avoid any depth or intimacy with someone because then they might get to know your truth and be able to leverage it against you
- Give people the impression that they are making headway with you, when you are in fact keeping them safely at arm's length
- Use your wit to deflect criticism or potentially dangerous lines of inquiry
(This isn't idle speculation, this was my path for 35 years).
Your entire life becomes a reflection of your internal battle to overcome your flaw.
And the problem is that you can never, ever win this game.
You can't win it because the flaw is something you made up about yourself in the first place.
You can never get enough of what you don't really need
The cost of that fundamental flaw is the real reason you and I are having a conversation.
The thing that you really want to create lies on the other side, and until we can identify the flaw and get you to look beyond it, you’ll be locked in a struggle to overcome a part of yourself that you created in the first place.
So there you and I sit, talking.
And quite earnestly, you keep bringing your strategies to our conversation, like they're a part of you.
I hear you sharing what you want, and I see that it's simply the next iteration of a brilliantly-devised tactic to overcome what you've realized is wrong about you.
And together, we work to have you set aside the tool that has served you all your life, and begin learning a new approach.
And thus begins the journey of leadership.