It’s not what you know about yourself that matters; it’s what you don’t know

I once heard the expression ‘unreasonable friend’ and chuckled, cos I think most of my friends would fall into that category and I love them for it. What it means is that they won’t let me delude myself; they won’t let me play the victim card EVER; they won’t let me get away with excuses and if they think I’m out of line or repeating a pattern of behaviour that doesn’t serve me, they will call me out.

I’d just sent out a newsletter about FEAR: feeling it; facing it; harnessing it and immediately I got a call from someone saying ‘please can you come and do a session on that for us’. The person went on to say that her organisation has just gone through a massive ‘hurt’ for want of a better word, and the staff were 80% male and as we all know, our darling men simply have challenges talking about ‘feelings’. For sure they can wax lyrical for hours on the subjects of sport or the share market but get them to talk about pain, or hurt or FEAR or depression and they head for the hills.

So I put together a presentation which covered:

  • Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s denial/resistance/exploration/acceptance model. Kubler ross is a cancer specialist and she noticed these were the phases people went through when she told them their test results showed cancer. She also noted that the faster people went through the phases, the more likely they were to go into remission.
  • I talked about how medical staff in the spinal unit ask one of the toughest questions I’ve ever heard of their patients. These are people who have had a massive accident leading to them being paralysed from the waist/chest or even neck down. After a suitable period of time the doctors ask ‘How long are you going to sulk?’ Kapow! That’s tough. But until they stop sulking, they don’t move on. And I highlighted pictures of the recent Invictus games.
  • I shared with them the Johari Window. Window one is the stuff we know about ourselves; window two is the stuff we know and are happy to show about ourselves; window 3 is our subconscious – everything about us ever – our beliefs; our values;  our family/country of origin; our culture; our place in the family; our education etc. etc. This is the stuff we don’t know we don’t know but which comes out in our behaviours. Window 4 hides our blind spots: the stuff other people see that we are not aware of. The window where, if we have some of those unreasonable friends, they will point out our weird behaviours; the behaviours that don’t serve us. Like ‘how come every job you get you seem to attract a bad boss?’ or ‘how come every time you get into a relationship within a short period of time you start to sabotage things?’ Yep. That type of feedback. Ouch.
  • And I told them the story of Alan Peace – the body language guy who had his own TV show; was worth mega bucks and somehow went broke. He and his wife sat and said ‘what now’ which is when he wrote a book ‘What men know about women’ a book with 100 blank pages. The book went on to be a best seller and started the process of him claiming back his wealth.

When I do a presentation I’m always alert to the people that wait to talk to me afterwards. One lovely man said he was worried about a staff member who was clearly going through something at home but simply wouldn’t talk about it. Another man talked to me about a relative whose marriage had broken down 5 years ago and she was still ‘sulking’ about it; what could be do?

And so this was my advice if someone asks YOU for help:

  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Care
  • Ask how you can help and be there for them

If YOU are the person with a problem, then these are my suggestions:

  • Ask for help
  • It’s OK to say I’m stuck; I’m confused; I’m struggling; I’m out of my depth
  • Be willing to seek ongoing support via counselling or any of the amazing services that are out there just waiting to help you

And I finished the presentation with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s beautiful words:

‘When you come to the edge of all the light that you know and are about to step out into the darkness of the unknown, Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly’. – Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Ann Andrews CSP

Author: Lessons in leadership: 50 ways to avoid falling into the ‘Trump’ trap

RESOURCES:  You can download my ‘FEAR’ exercise here

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