has been written about the shadow side of our personalities, the part
of ourselves we repress for whatever reason. Perhaps we pushed it down
because we judged it to be insufficient, weak, or inappropriate.
Whatever the cause, we tamp it down and cultivate other aspects of our personality.
The result is that there are aspects of ourselves
which are unexplored and undeveloped. These juicy bits are dark yet
enthralling to most. A comic strip and 1930s radio show was built
on our fascination, in which the title character was a crime fighter
with psychic powers.
Dark and mysterious, plumbing the unknown depths
of human power – don’t we all have a duty to go down there ourselves
and learn what we are made of? Well, it doesn’t sound like a high ride,
does it? But, wait!! There is gold down there.
Being the complex creatures we are, we not only
repress bad stuff – we also push down all the qualities of goodness we
have a hard time looking eye-to-eye. Yes, all those pishaws and
brushes aside may have done a little damage that is worth repairing for
the payback it provides.
Robert Johnson, the prolific psychoanalyst, calls
us to look at the profound qualities that are unexplored and un-mined
in our psyches. He implies they have been put away by well-intentioned
but fallible intents. And he implores us to consider there is real
treasure within, if only we would go hunting for it. He says, “The gold
is related to our higher calling and this can be hard to accept at
certain stages of life.”
In its simplest form, you can think of the golden
shadow this way. Someone says to you, “Wow, you did a great job with
that speech! You are a powerful orator. You should be really proud of
yourself.” In response you say, “Oh, it was nothing really” and with
that little quip you tuck away from your own gaze one of your
real-life super-hero powers: your ability to speak and move people with
Now, you may love your speaker-self. Maybe the
hidden quality I am referring to is a different one for you. My point
is that there are aspects and talents you carry that spend too much
time in your toolbox and not enough time in the light of day.
And, yet there they are, ready for the day you recognize what amazing
qualities you have and bring them out to wield as part of your array.
closer look at Johnson’s words, we see he speaks not of personality
attributes, but of a “higher calling.” You know, I have to say, the
most visionary leaders I have worked with each had a distinctive drive
that I would represent as nothing short of a calling.
Some attributed it to their relationship with the divine. Others were
less spiritual and but nonetheless saw it as a powerful,
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they could deliver on. But, in all
cases, there was a sense of profound purpose that extended beyond mere
goal-making and drove them to bring out their best in order to make a
difference in the world.
And then there are those leaders who plug along,
making ends meet, or taking the organization to another level, but stop
short of anything they would be proud of in their most private moments.
I think, for those who feel that there is more in life than is
currently being had, the golden shadow is an excellent place to go
When I worked for Shell helping transform the oil
and gas drilling environment, I learned that it costs just as much to
build a rig to explore as it does to build a rig to extract.
Exploration is just as hard as mining, so there is a healthy respect
for the effort and cost involved. When it comes to exploring your
golden shadow, don’t take it lightly. If you have reason to believe
there is gold down there, invest in the expedition. The world is hungry
for your results.
Join me May 12 & 13 in Wash, DC, for this very amazing and unique
event. These two days, hosted by
Steve Denning and me, will be dedicated to remaking the management
mindset; that is, reinventing business, governmentt, education, and
health. All the information is here.