There Was Something in the Moment of That Passionate Truth Telling, Which Caused Luke to Have a Sickening Realisation
Have your inner saboteurs ever caused people to react negatively towards you? Distance themselves from you? Choose not to spend time in your company, or at least as little as they can feasibly get away with.
Your Inner Saboteurs … are people’s stories of when their inner saboteurs caused problems for them, leading them to get in their own way, and to be their own worst enemy. Stories of when their inner saboteurs prevented them from reaching their potential, resulting in them badly messing up, and at best stopping themselves from having the impact they could have, or at worst derailing their WorkLives…
“I am so disgusted by your inability to hear the truth that people are telling you, I can’t even sit next to you anymore, I’m out of here …” There was something in the moment of that passionate truth telling, which caused Luke to have the sickening realisation that what everyone was saying was right.
But let’s back up a little to Luke’s story: An Inner Saboteurs Case Study:
It was the weekly project meeting at the health insurance company where Luke was Managing Director. Everyone on the team was required to bring their colleagues up to speed with where they were at with their role and responsibilities on the project: what was going well; challenges being faced; and support needed.
Just as Luke was about to bring the meeting to a close, Marc nervously began to speak, in a voice that was shaking. He addressed Luke, saying; “It’s really hard for me to say this Luke, but I’ve got to tell you, in every meeting I feel harshly judged by you, and it really bothers me.” Luke was a little irked, and he had another meeting to go on to. Thinking on his feet, he said to himself: “I can’t give this any air time, I need to shut it down, I really don’t have the time for this”. Turning to Marc he said: “Marc, thank you so much for giving me this feedback, this is really helpful feedback, I’ll certainly take it on board.”
While saying this, in the back of his mind he was thinking: “Of course you feel judged by me, you idiot, you’re such a loser, how else do you expect me to think about you?”
He was about to stand up when Abigail said: “Marc telling you that gives me the courage to tell you I also feel harshly judged by you, Luke, and often I’m really bothered by that.” In his head Luke thought: “Not another one!, I really do need to nip this in the bud.” He turned to Abigail and I said: “Abigail, thank you so much for giving me this feedback, it’s very helpful feedback, and I’ll certainly take it on board.”
In the back of his mind he was thinking: “Abigail, have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? I mean come on give me a break, don’t blame your insecurities on me, go get a life.”
Then a third and a fourth person gave him the exact same feedback.
He kept thanking them, but with an arrogant denial going on in his head, he was thinking: “It’s amazing how these people are lining up based on the first biggest loser, then the second-biggest loser, then the third biggest loser in the group, trying to justify their insecurities on me.”
Then Charles, who was perhaps the one person on the team who Luke admired and respected, and who was sitting to next to him, stood up in disgust, took a seat across the table from him and said: “I am so disgusted by your inability to hear the truth that people are telling you, I can’t even sit next to you anymore, I’m out of here.” He then stood up and walked out of the room, and the rest of the team followed.
There was something in the moment of that passionate truth telling which caused Luke to have the sickening realisation that what everyone was saying was right. He got up and walked to Charles’s office.
Charles glanced up at Luke as he entered, and said: “I’m that angry at you. I have always felt judged by you too, not negatively — positively, the moment you met me you put me in a box, you put me on a pedestal, you’ve never really seen me for who I am. The way in which you judge people is intimidating in meetings. It causes people to shut down, or not to open up in the first place. You’re sabotaging your relationships, and team morale is suffering as a result. The air of judgement that you portray, reveals you for who you are and what you’re really thinking. People deserve better.”
Charles went on to say to Luke: “You need to develop your self-awareness of what it is that’s going on within you, within your mind, that’s causing you to sabotage yourself, because that’s what happening here. That air of judgement that you portray is self-sabotage.”
“You’re not alone in having inner saboteurs, everyone has these guys messing with them, it’s a universal thing. Once you know what your inner saboteurs are, you can manage them, and they won’t take you down. To do this you need to practice mental fitness, this will allow you to make the shift you need away from your saboteur.”
Charles’s parting words to Luke as he indicated their conversation was over, was that he should read The Actor and the Target by Declan Donnellan.
Luke was puzzled by Charles’s book recommendation. He knew he had a need to instantly judge people, to size them up and then put them in a box. What he hadn’t known was how obviously he had been in doing this. He had actually thought he was good at hiding it. Was Charles suggesting he needed to learn acting skills? If so, this struck Luke as being odd, but he felt there must be more to it. Because he admired and respected Charles he believed the words of wisdom he had imparted was a gift. He just wasn’t sure what it was a gift for, but he was determined to find out.
Picking up a copy of the book he was immediately drawn to the recommendations: “The Actor and the Target is no more for actors only than The Art of War is reserved for Warriors”(Los Angeles Times) and “Hugely practical and never gets lost in theory. On the contrary, it distils its principles from life itself” (El Pais).
Luke asked himself: “How do I pull myself out of the hole, I’ve gotten myself in?”
The Actor and the Target allowed Luke to give himself the following self-feedback:
- In his need to instantly judge people he wasn’t actually seeing them, he was in fact imagining them to make them fit to his pre-judgement;
- Instead of discovering who people were, his perception of them already existed, again to make them fit to his pre-judgement.
The learning Luke was taking from the book, was that the people in the meeting were his target, and the target (people) cannot be a generalisation. The target (people) cannot be put in a box. The target (people) is always transforming, but Luke was blinded to this because of his pre-judgement of his target (people). Even worse, his pre-judgement was stealing energy from the target (people), he was taking power away from the target (people), resulting in at best blocking them, and at worse paralysing them. In doing so, he was allowing his Judgement — his Inner Saboteur to block himself — in being able to see people for who they really were, and his self-paralysis was blinding himself to people, resulting in destroying his relationship with the target (people).
Luke began his challenge to overcome his Judgement Inner Saboteur by paying attention to his target (people) in meetings. He learnt attention has to be given, and it can’t be controlled. There was nothing he could manufacture within himself. Instead, all he could do was to see things and to pay attention. This simple shift in his behaviour gave the target (people) the freedom to surprise him, and gave him the freedom to be surprised. He was able to see the target (people) differently from what he had expected. The simple act of paying attention allowed him to switch off his Judgement Inner Saboteur. He was in effect giving himself the choice to be in the present, and in so doing dispelling judgement which manifested itself from past or future conceptions or misconceptions.
Words of Wisdom
Your mind can be your best friend, and it can also be your worst enemy. Saboteurs create a lot of lies, and you need to be mindful of who’s doing the talking in your head. By naming your saboteurs as your enemy and the voice of folly, rather than trusting them as your friend and the voice of wisdom, they lose their credibility and power.
Today’s featured book is: The Actor and the Target by Declan Donnellan.
This story has been inspired by the work of Shirzad Chamine. Author, Stanford Lecturer and CEO Coach at Positive Intelligence. It was featured in my book: How To Overcome Self-Sabotage from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.
WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:
The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.
My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.
I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.