There is an old story of a person trapped on the roof of a building as floodwaters are rising.
A boat passes and the occupants shout “come down, we’ll take you to safety”. The person says “No, God will save me”.
Another boat passes. The occupants shout “come down, we’ll take you to safety” The person says “No, God will save me.”
The floodwaters rise and the person drowns. At the gates of heaven the person asks God “why didn’t you save me?” and God replies “I sent you two boats, why didn’t you accept my help?”
On Being Active while Being Patient
Passive Patience is waiting for what you want.
Active patience is preparing yourself to be maximally prepared to find the right types of opportunity, and to have the skills, resources and network to really make use of the opportunity when it finally comes.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who made significant contributions to our understanding of the human psyche. He was a former student and colleague of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, but they eventually parted ways due to major disagreements in their theories.
Carl Jung devoted his life to studying the human mind, seeking to understand the factors that influence human behavior and personality.
Jung’s Understanding of our Mind
Carl Jung’s model of the human psyche can be imagined as an iceberg.
The tiny tip above the water represents the conscious mind, the portion underwater that is still visible symbolises the personal unconscious, and the vast, unseen expanse beneath the surface embodies the collective unconscious.
Conscious Mind: The conscious mind consists of everything we’re actively aware of. It involves our current thoughts, perceptions, and actions. It’s the part of the mind where reasoning, decision-making, and voluntary actions occur.
Personal Unconscious: The personal unconscious contains memories, thoughts, and experiences that were once conscious but have been forgotten or suppressed. It includes personal experiences and knowledge that are not currently conscious but can be brought back to consciousness. This is also where our complexes reside, which are patterns of emotions, memories, and perceptions tied together by a common theme.
Collective Unconscious: The collective unconscious, unlike the personal unconscious, does not develop from personal experiences. Instead, it’s a shared reservoir of experiences of our species, a kind of universal, impersonal form of memory inherited from our ancestors. It contains archetypes, which are basic universal symbols, themes, and motifs that are common across different cultures and epochs. The collective unconscious impacts our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, often in ways we aren’t aware of. It can influence our dreams and our conscious thoughts. Symbols from the collective unconscious often appear in our dreams, fantasies, or in ‘slips of the tongue’, and can even influence our personal beliefs and values.
The collective unconscious, personal unconscious, and conscious mind are all interconnected and each play an important role in how we experience life.
The Collective Unconscious: A Shared Ancestral Species Memory
The collective unconscious, also known as the objective psyche, refers to structures of the unconscious mind shared among beings of the same species. It is a repository of ancestral experiences.
According to Jung, the collective unconscious contains archetypes, which are universal, archaic patterns or images that derive from the collective repeated experiences of our ancestors. These archetypes are innate and inherited, not acquired from personal experiences. They include themes such as birth, death, power, parenthood, and childhood, which are reflected in our myths, religions, dreams, and fantasies.
The collective unconscious profoundly influences our behavior, attitudes, dreams, and emotions, though we are often unaware of its impact. It’s the reason certain symbols, myths, and motifs are prevalent across different cultures and historical periods.
Understanding Jungian Archetypes
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung proposed the idea of archetypes as universal, inborn models of people, behaviours, or personalities. They serve as the foundation for our understanding and experience of the world. The four primary Jungian archetypes are the Self, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and the Persona.
Primary Jungian Archetypes
The Self represents the unification of the conscious and unconscious within an individual. It’s the archetype that connects our spiritual and earthly facets, symbolising our striving for unity and wholeness. In leadership, this wholeness translates into self-awareness, a quality that enables leaders to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and core values.
The Shadow encompasses the parts of ourselves that we choose to repress or deny – our fears, insecurities, and perceived weaknesses. It’s the “dark side” of our personality that we often choose to overlook. However, by recognising and integrating our shadow, we can achieve personal growth and become more empathetic leaders, able to understand and accept the imperfections in ourselves and others.
The Anima/Animus. The Anima (in men) and Animus (in women) represent the feminine and masculine aspects within us, respectively. They symbolise the “true self” versus societal expectations about gender roles.
The Persona is the mask we present to the world – it’s how we choose to be seen. It embodies our social role and mediates between our true self and the environment. In leadership, the Persona can sometimes be misleading, as leaders may feel compelled to project an image that’s in line with societal expectations rather than their true nature.
Jungian Character Archetypes
While the primary archetypes represent internal aspects of the self, the 12 character archetypes reflect diverse ways these basic aspects may manifest in our behaviours and attitudes. We each have an innate sense of the type of story we seek to live. If we can understand and accept our nature, we can create a life that is deeply meaningful for ourselves.
The Ruler: This archetype craves control and will seek leadership, believing stability and power are the ways to ensure safety. The Ruler fears chaos and being overthrown. As leaders, they can bring about prosperity and success but may also become authoritarian.
The Creator/Artist: This archetype is imaginative and values authenticity. They desire to create something meaningful and enduring. Their fear lies in mediocrity or creating something insignificant. In leadership, they can foster innovation and creativity.
The Sage: The Sage seeks truth and understanding. They are wise, thoughtful, and introspective, driven by knowledge and wisdom. They fear deception and ignorance. As leaders, they are valued for their insight and analytical abilities.
The Innocent: The Innocent aims to be happy and strives to do things right. Their optimism and hope can be infectious. They fear doing something wrong or punishable. Leaders who embody this archetype often encourage a positive, morale-boosting environment.
The Explorer: This archetype is characterised by a deep love of exploration and the desire for freedom. They fear being trapped or conforming. As leaders, they encourage discovery, innovation, and growth.
The Rebel: The Rebel seeks radical change and revolution, standing against the status quo. They fear no change or being powerless. In leadership, they challenge old systems and norms, fostering innovation and change.
The Hero: The Hero archetype is characterised by courage, strength, and competence. They are driven by their desire to prove their worth through courageous acts. Their fear lies in weakness or vulnerability. As leaders, they can inspire others to action.
The Wizard: The Wizard seeks to understand the underlying rules of the universe and make dreams come true. They fear unintended negative consequences. As leaders, they encourage learning, understanding, and growth, aiming to turn ideas into reality.
The Jester: The Jester is driven by a desire to live in the moment and make the most of it. They fear being bored or boring others. They can foster a fun and positive work environment, inspiring creativity and a different perspective.
The Everyman: The Everyman seeks connection and belonging, valuing humility and being down-to-earth. They fear standing out or being left out. In leadership, they often foster team cohesion and egalitarianism.
The Lover: The Lover seeks intimacy and to be in a relationship with the people, work, and surroundings they love. They fear being alone or unloved. As leaders, they encourage harmony and work to build deep relationships.
The Caregiver: The Caregiver desires to help and protect others. They fear selfishness and ingratitude. As leaders, they often provide support, nurturing the growth and development of their team.
How to Understand Humans: Ourselves, and Others
Jungian archetypes provide a mirror to our inner selves, allowing us to deepen self-understanding, lead others and communicate authentically.
Self-awareness: Understanding these archetypes can provide insights into our motivations, fears, and desires, improving our decision-making abilities and empathetic understanding.
Authenticity: By integrating our personality aspects, leaders can foster authenticity, leading to trust and stronger connections within their teams.
Influential communication: Understanding archetypes can improve our understanding of others’ perspectives and behaviours, enhancing communication skills and fostering meaningful relationships.
Exploring your own Archetypal Structure
If you haven’t already done these tests, I’d suggest that they are best place to start to gain an understanding of your own personal character orientation.
The Enneagram, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DISC, and the Big Five (OCEAN) are all tools that seek to understand and categorise our personality traits.
Enneagram: The Enneagram consists of nine distinct personality types. Each type, or number, represents a worldview and archetype that resonates with how people think, feel, and act in relation to the world, others, and themselves. Though not a direct translation, the underlying motives, fears, and desires of each Enneagram type can be compared to the motivations, fears, and desires found in the 12 Jungian archetypes. Learn about the Enneagram.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): The MBTI is heavily influenced by Jung’s theory of psychological types. It divides personality into four dichotomies, with 16 possible combinations. These combinations form the basis for Myers-Briggs’ personality types. The MBTI focuses more on the process of personality (how individuals perceive the world and make decisions), while the Jungian archetypes focus more on the content of personality (innate tendencies and behaviours). Learn about MBTI.
DISC: DISC focuses on four different personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Each of these traits represents a way that individuals typically behave or communicate. The Jungian archetypes could represent the motivation or underlying forces that drive these behaviours. Learn about DISC.
It’s January. New year is a time for reflection on how life is going… and often to make changes.
Why does behaviour change fail?
Here are 3 reasons why I see people fail at behaviour change:
Lack of Clarity: They have a vague sense of the desire to change, but no clarity around exactly what it is that needs to happen every day. Choose something specific and achievable that you want to change. Write it down and make it visible.
Lack of Support: They are in an environment that doesn’t support the change, or that actively holds them in the current state. Who around you is already making this change work in their own life? If your friends are fit, you are going to be fit. If your friends read lots and share their lessons, you are going to be a reader and a learner.
Impossible expectations: They have a sense that clear, visible, lasting results will appear in a few days. They have an unrealistic expectation of how quickly they will see results. Most Important: Decide to commit to the change, and let go of your expectations around seeing quick results.
It is not what we do on our best day that will truly make an impact on the quality of our lives, it is the habit we can stick to on our worst day that will make a lasting difference.
For the last 2 years, I have joined a strava monthly 100kms run challenge every month. I have achieved it every month except february 2022.
One important lesson I have taken from this 2 year journey: the day I really don’t feel like going out and running… but somehow I get out and run anyway… these runs make the biggest difference to my life.
Consistency… on the hard days
Once or twice a week I wake up and really do not feel like putting on my sports gear and running… I wake up tired and with low energy… and all I want to do is sit in a comfy seat with an extra coffee. These days a run really shifts my energy.
My friend Julio recently shared with me a story from his swim training. Some days the coach has them racing to have the quickest time overall. However, sometimes the coach has them swim 8 times 100 meters… and the winner is not the fastest overall… the winner is the one with the least variation between each of the 100 meter times. This training is to really encourage a focus on consistent swimming speed… not fast when you are fresh… and slowing as you tire.
This story reminded me of the importance of consistency.
On the Tim Ferriss podcast last week, I heard him speak with Neil Gaiman, the author. They spoke about habits. Neil said that the best writing is the same writing day over and over again; same place same time same process… no changes between one day and the next… an extreme focus on repeating the same day.
The other idea I loved was Neil Gaiman’s one writing rule for himself. When he is at his writing desk, he allows himself to do one of two things: write, or do nothing.
This rules allows his inner saboteur a choice… he doesn’t “have to” write.
Neil has learnt that the “do nothing” choice can be appealing in the short term… but it always becomes more and more boring… and writing begins to be more interesting than continued “doing nothing”.
How do you create consistency in the important habits of your life?
What is your relationship to success and failure? I have been reflecting these recent weeks about how I respond to “failure” – when things do not turn out as I hoped or wished.
The video below shares my thinking about a better way of approaching failure in our lives.
How I let failures derail me…
I let small failures easily put me in a state of frustration and stop me making progress (and then checking social media and seeking out other simple distractions).
I take small setbacks incredibly personally.
I’ve been reflecting on why I let these small failure events have such an effect on me.
I realised that I was telling myself that all setbacks are bad.
This is not a great story to tell myself. A new story is that failures are a sign that I am working towards important goals. A lack of setbacks would be a demonstration that I am only working towards easy, unimportant goals that don’t push me to grow as a person.
A couple of weeks back I shared something that my father said to me over and over again when I was young. “It might be their fault, but its your problem”. His point was always to take responsibility for what you yourself can actually control in any situation. Robbie van Persie shared a similar conversation with his son recently on the High Performance podcast. This sparked my recent video from Seville…
High Performance interview clip with Robbie van Persie
I came across the High Performance podcast when they interviewed Dan Carter, the great New Zealand rugby fly-half (the equivalent of a quarterback in american football). I have listened to many of their episodes over the last couple of months as I travel or go for walks. I love a couple of things about this podcast – the way the two hosts Jake and Damien play off of each other, are each so curious and passionate about the human side of performance and the guests that join them on the podcast.
I loved this bit of the High Performance Podcast interviewing Robbie van Persie… on taking responsibility for what you do control. Here’s the video clip:
Sustainability, AI and Digitalisation are three important strategic concerns for all businesses. Covid has accelerated this process of transformation. Some jobs will disappear, and new types of jobs will be created. What skills will keep us valuable?
A recent McKinsey report looked at the human skills that will remain in high demand as organisations adapt to the requirements of a sustainable and digital world.
What are the skills that will keep you gainfully employed in future?
McKinsey surveyed over 18,000 people across 15 countries to identify 54 key future-proof skills, which are grouped into 4 categories:
Cognitive – Problem Solving, Planning, Structured communications, Mental flexibility
The rest of the report identifies 54 “distinct areas of talent” – which McKinsey calls DELTAs. These each have an attitudinal and a skill element, so they are something beyond a basic skill. I include the infographic below directly from the McKinsey report:
The Mindset required for Future Employability
In addition to the 54 skills, McKinsey outlined 3 aspects of a Mindset that will be key to future employability:
Contribute – add value beyond what can be done by automated systems and intelligent machines
Digital – operate in a digital environment
Adapt – continually adapt to new ways of working and new occupations
The Impact on Job Satisfaction
There are a few different graphs shown in the full McKinsey report. I found this particular one interesting – the “DELTA”s that most correlate to Job Satisfaction… I would suggest they go farther than just job satisfaction and correlate with overall life satisfaction.
The top 10 Skills for Job Satisfaction
How will you be working on improving your competency in the top 10 skills for Satisfaction?
A month ago it felt like the Covid virus was losing its capacity to disrupt our well made plans… but along comes Omnicron and the maths change again.
We are living in the era of predictable unpredictability. All plans are flexible and adaptable.
It is a state of existence that puts great pressure on our mental well-being.
For two years we have lived with shifting regulations around masks, tests, travel restrictions, lockdowns and vaccine certificates. As new variants arise (and that process is guaranteed) these regulations come and go… leaving us all living in permanent limbo.
We have canceled our own travel plans at Christmas. It almost feels a relief to have clarity, even as we and our kids accept the loss of the imagined joys of Christmas presents and time playing with cousins.
A decade ago online shopping, distance learning, home office and video conferences were the stuff of sci-fi and a few techie nerds. Today they are our lives. The advances in how we use technology to allow hybrid classes in IESE and hybrid meetings in Vistage have amazed me. I believe that the rapid acceptance of technology to facilitate communication, work, teams, advances in new organisation structures, crypto (as a store of value and with NFTs as a means to distribute equity, ownership, trust or revenues over a large group) is going to open up some massive steps forward for humanity.
Healthy Humans Need Meaning
We get a lot of the meaning in our lives (in the west) from activity, from progress against plans, from the feeling of forward momentum. We can find meaning in other ways. If we are to stay sane in times of unpredictability, we need to find meaning in other ways. A daily gratitude list – “3 things I am grateful for” is a very powerful meaning and mindset shift. Setting 10-20 year goals is another way of keeping a sense of meaning (and progress) even in the face of short and medium term unpredictability.
What are the activities, conversations, focusses that give a sense of meaning to your own life?
The winner of the 100m in the Olympics might also win the 200m, but will never be competitive in the 10K… or marathon …or rowing, or judo…
Gold medal athletes focus on their strengths and work to amplify their strengths. Usain Bolt doesn’t spend training time trying to improve his long distance capacity. He works on his start, on acceleration, on sprinting and finishing. He works on his strengths.
Recently I’ve felt a lot of pressure to spend time on areas that for me are weaknesses. I am writing this blog post mainly as a reminder to myself to stay strong, and accept these weaknesses. As a leader, I am responsable for making sure there are people and systems around me so that our business doesn’t have weaknesses… but it is not me that should spend time in areas where I am weak.
Dan Sullivan on working on your strengths
If you work throughout your life on improving your weaknesses, what you get are a lot of really strong weaknesses.
In order to do well in school, you need to get good grades in all the subjects. If you are good at sports when you are 12 or 15, you are probably the best at most of the sports you try.
I did well in school. It became painful for me to not get good grades… in any subject… even the ones that I really didn’t care about.
In business (and professional sports), you do well by being really good in one subject. In order to be excellent, you need to deliberately choose to be bad in almost everything else.
I am good at some things, I am not good at lots of things. A lot of the people around me are great at letting me know what I’m not doing so well… I have to stay mindful in order to not get drawn into trying to spend effort improving my weaknesses.
Stephen King says “I was lucky. I was born only good at one thing. Imagine how hard it is for people who are good at 2 things… or what is truly difficult… being good at most things.”(I paraphrase as I can’t currently find the original quote)
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