In the mid 1700’s Frederick William of Brandenburg, King of Prussia, thought that his son (also named Frederick) was ‘effete’, weak, and not good King material. He embarked on a toughening up process, and woke his son up each morning with the deafening shot of a cannon, and made him watch as he brutally beheaded his (so he thought) equally effete childhood best friend. His son appeared to survive such ordeals and when he finally took the throne himself he was initially a humanitarian and immersed in the arts. As time went on, however, he became more and more authoritarian, and eventually became addicted to brutality and war to an even greater extent than his father.
It can be hard to escape our early conditioning and the expectations of others.
Thankfully we have moved on from empire and feudalism, however we still unwittingly play out old patterns as we develop our own power and authority as leaders in our organisations.
Our default thoughts and attitudes rumble away quietly beneath our normal level of awareness, and while these early lessons in life can be a real asset and serve us well throughout our lives, so they can sometimes be a hindrance and hold back what we have to offer.
This is also how our unconscious bias’s are shaped and created. As young people we watched and learned, and naturally adopted the attitudes and beliefs of our families and communities as our own. If we are fortunate in later life we get the chance to take a look at them and shed what no longer works while defining for ourselves what attitudes to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, mental health etc. we choose to have and what this means for what we say and what we do.
This is powerful and transformative work, and asks that we engage with ourselves at a deeper level than we are probably used to.
Get going by putting some time aside for reflection on the questions ‘what kind of leader do I really want to be?’ and ‘what attitudes have I inherited?’ Listen carefully to the answers that emerge. Think about your role models and what exactly it is about them that you admire. Commit yourself to one or two changes that you would like to make, and look for support to help you to get there.
Carl Jung wrote, “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
He was probably also thinking “and you will need a coach” but sadly he didn’t get to write this down 🙂
Whole person coaching: “The idea that we are at our best when we have intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical health”