Back in 2009 when I started consulting, focusing on the latest research regarding group dynamics and leadership, people told me that I was brave, crazy, with hubris and without experience, not knowing the first thing about running a business. I agreed. With all. Except one, –I did have experience and lots of it.
All my life I have been surrounded by dysfunctional groups and bad leaders. I have experienced destructive behavior conducted by authority figures on every level of my upbringing. Through school and in my work life, among friends and within my family. I was, like many of us, exposed to ignorance, lack of knowledge, pride, blame and shame, lots of prejudice, and all our fears. I thought group dynamics were an uncontrollable phenomenon,
– If you ended up in a supportive environment, just enjoy it while it lasts. I grew up feeling misunderstood and judge unfairly in almost every context. I grew up thinking that it was all about winning or losing. I grew up and became a difficult team member.
– So yes, I did have lots of experience. I know how destructive hierarchies makes you feel. I know what counter dependency behavior comes from. I know what destructive leadership looks like and I know what it does to you. I also know what it feels like to be a bad leader. When I was introduced to the latest research on group dynamics, at Hyper Island, much fell into place. I realized that:
Individual preferences interfere constantly with decision making
That communication is really hard for all of us
That hierarchies are essential for groups and always created one way or the other
Different behaviors and driving forces are constantly balanced and interrupted
We as humans have basic needs such as being loved, belong, feeling safe, and feel needed. When we demand others to fulfills these needs (especially at work) things start to get messy
That our values are affecting everything we do
That our self-awareness is key and it is often terrible low, therefore, the root to most conflicts
That it's scary for most people to be open about their thoughts and feelings. It does not matter if the guidelines say; Be open with your thoughts and feelings
It can be scary with people that are open
Everyone has prejudices, blame and shame does not make them go away
That a lot of conflicts are about that, our prejudices, which are created in the mind. It does not exist in our hearts
That a lot of our conflicts are about expectations, unclear goals, and no true purpose. Internal or external conflicts, it doesn't matter its the same
That we don't reflect enough
That I'm not alone
I gained many insights and I was able to make a shift in the mind that was needed for my own personal growth to start.
I made it my purpose at the time, to speak about group dynamics, about bad leaders and great ones. About angry and misunderstood co-workers and what they really want. Trying to sympathize with you all. Trying to take away the blame and shame of just being human with all our needs, and fears, and desires. Trying to emphasize the importance of dealing with team challenges and think process design.
For me, running a business was never about the money. It was always, and still, all about the freedom of choice. Choose my clients and choose my context. I have been able to put my energy on the topic. Not on battles and mini-wars that a lot of you bare witness to. Over the years I haven't spent many minutes feeling mistreated at work. I haven't spent one second being upset with my boss, since I didn't have one. I haven't been forced to play the game at work, having a strategy, using politics to get my will.
I have educated myself and attended courses off my choice when I wanted to. I have had vacation three months every year, sometimes more, never asking anyone for permission. When I met my husband and fell in love, head over heels, I hardly worked at all for six months!
Yes, there were idiots. However, when I realized they where idiots I could, quite easily, pick up my computer and leave. Today, grateful for all the lessons. And I learned something really important:
Idiots come in any shape and form.
It's easy to lose yourself in a conventional way of looking at competence and success such as old credentials, for example, a university degree, and fine titles.
Some of those credentials are just not competence anymore. It could actually be the opposite.
If the image feels old it probably is and chances are that the mentoring will be too.
If the image looks good but feels fake, it probably is fake.
My goal has been to translate team dilemmas with help from research, trying to come up with simple solutions and how to apply them at work. My own experiences from growing up, studies, research, courses, and stories from co-workers and leaders whom I have had the pleasure of meeting over the years feed me with content, competence, and confidence. It has been fun and rewarding in many ways.
But also really hard and lately, quite painful. Why?
It's painful to see that almost all of you want to change. More openness and better relationships at work. Wanting something different while being stuck in a system that goes beyond you. A system that was never built for handling all the challenges that come with group dynamics and interpersonal relationships. In an industry where people are the companies biggest asset (now, this is almost every industry in Sweden) it becomes inevitable to invest in personal growth on every level of the company.
I have been trying to emphasize the importance of self-awareness on a deeper level, searching for one's purpose. To build on self-leadership for real FOR EVERYONE (not only top management). But I had to get past your boss whose only concern was sales and he or she was unable to understand that I was talking about the perfect solutions to fix the sales problem. He or she could not see the connection.
Increased self-awareness, better communication, fewer conflicts, better collaboration, better solutions on every challenge including sales strategies –coming from the heart of the organization–.
There is only one way that your employees will have your companies best interest at heart. If YOU have your employees best interested at heart.
In the end, I found myself entertaining and trying to impress people I wasn't impressed by. I always found that really tricky. You wanted more. I wanted more. Somewhere along the way I lost my calling and started to get miserable. You can read about my depression here.
Ironically, my depression forced me to raise my own self-awareness. In order for me to get better I had to, once again leave my comfort zone, but this time, with so much more to lose than ever before, –My smooth and comfortable life was at stake. Which gave me a much-needed reminder of just how hard and scary personal growth can be.
Every iteration of personal growth gets harder, that's why so many of us eventually stop growing. It's simply too hard. That's why a depression, a midlife crisis, or a brutal awakening is the only way forward for some of us. I was pulled, or pushed, into growth by change, disruption and destruction from within.
At first, It was highly unpleasant and now, the transformation is ongoing, nonreversible, still unpleasant at times, but I think I am turning it into my biggest blessing (so far) in life and I could not be more grateful for all of it.
Change and disruption are constant, coming from outside and/or within, moving really fast and it's ruthless. To let go of conventional ways of thinking means to be less safe and less in control, which is going against our biology. And also my personality. The only thing that will last me this life is an open mind. To always have a beginner's mind and ask;
1. What can I learn from this? 2. How can I apply these learnings?
So, a big thanks to all my clients over the years. You have given me so much. Everything that I hoped for. All the cool companies that were on my wishlist back in 2009 when I started out, HM, Spotify, SVT, Berghs, Stockholms University, Hyper Island, and Google UK. I can tick the box. And thanks to all agencies and networks that have worked with me, it's more than 30 of you out there. Thank's to all you people that have promoted me in different ways, I'm so grateful.
How to move forward from here? Turns out, I was right. I just got it all wrong. Self-awareness is key. But it is time for a level that goes beyond the intellect and far beyond the boundaries of your workplace. Personal Growth Next Level demands new tools and I have found some of them and have been practicing these findings for the past 18 months and it has, is, transforming me. Now I will add these question to the ones above:
3. How can I share what I am practicing? 4. How can I create empowering content? 5. How can I be the change I want to see? 6. How can I inspire to self-love, self-care, and self-responsibility? 7. Am I making this world a better place?
I will constantly repeat these questions in a non-linear way, over and over again. I will cut out the middle man and be accessibly affordable for all who want to grow as a person. And I will give myself permission to fuck up at least 5 times over a five-year period.
What I will do 5 years from now? Tick off my (new) bucket list! whoop whoop.
I'm pretty sure that this decade will be super challenging and really exciting. Disruption is here and with that comes destruction. But the feelings I want to leave you with, believe it or not, is excitement, curiosity, and a sense of hope. I truly believe that this century has the potential to blow our minds if we let it (I mean that in a very positive way).
If you feel bored, uninspired, miserable, having anxiety over the future, and depressed like I was ...
STOP running, stop searching for the next big thing, stop having panic over the world. Start meditating. Search within.
Find empowering content and actionable tools for your personal growth
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