How You Are Suppressing Your Leadership Ability?

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Just before I was turning 30 I hit a real low point in my life.

I had been in business since I was 21, and had a typical roller coaster ride full of ups and downs.  My ups were massive, and so were my downs.

At the time, I had what looked like an awesome life – cars, houses, money – everything looked great from the outside.  The problem was on the inside I felt like shit.

I was running a direct sales company and I led a motivational, educational, and inspirational meeting every morning.  I remember one morning, after one of these meetings, it suddenly hit me.  I was in overwhelm and overcome with emotion and I didn’t know why.  I started crying – and I couldn’t understand what was wrong.

I’m a 6′ 2″ manly man. I ride dirt bikes and go four-wheel driving. I didn’t (or so I thought) cry.

Well, that day changed a lot for me.  I went to the doctor soon after that.  I knew something was wrong because I didn’t feel right.  I spent almost 10 years teaching people how to have a good attitude, and here I was feeling terrible and thinking negatively.

When the doctor saw me, he told me that his opinion was that I had depression.  He gave me a book called ‘Taming the Black Dog’ and a prescription for anti-depressants.  Now I’ve never been a huge fan of doctors and even less of a fan of prescription drugs.  It seems to me like they just treat the symptoms and not the cause.

I can remember sitting on my bedside and looking at these pills and thinking to myself ‘This can’t be the answer.’  I’m not saying that this is the path for everyone to take.  It was definitely the best path for me to take.  When I look back on it now, I can see that I made a decision there and then to find out what was the real source of the problem I was having.  I never took the pills.

Within a month or so of that visit to the doctor, I was talking to a business associate who was becoming a friend at the time and he told me about a coach he was working with, and he said that having listened to me talk about what was happening for me, he felt that this coach could really help me, and gave me his number.

I never rang.

A few weeks later, and my phone rings.  A voice on the other end says ‘Hi Mike.  My name is Des Ranger and I’ve been given your number by a friend of yours that you were talking to about some challenges you’re facing.  He’s told me that I might be able to help you.  I thought I’d call to see if you’d like to get together for a coffee to see if it feels right to work on this together.’

That day forever changed my life.  I started a coaching program and within a month, everything was different.  Within 6 months, the whole world was different – the sky was a bluer blue, the trees were a greener green, and I was truly happy.  There’s a lot more to this story and I’ll write that in other posts – for now I’d like to share the most valuable thing I learned in that first month – how I was suppressing myself.  And it’s likely that you’re doing the same.

First, a little background.

I used to read a lot of books.  Most of them were about business or self-development.  Many of the books I’d read had this one line in them over and over again – they all said ‘You create your own reality.’

Now I liked the idea of that.  I was interested!  It felt right to me.  The problem was that NONE of those books went into any detail about exactly HOW we create our own reality.

I always found that frustrating.  I’m a practical person.  The older I get, the more practical I become.  No one ever sat down and laid it out for me and said ‘this is how you create your own reality and this is how to change it.

So you can understand that when I found myself in the doctors office being told I had depression I wasn’t happy about it.

That was the main problem that I can see I was searching for the solution to in my life.  I wanted to understand how I create my own reality.  I figured that if I could understand that, then I would be able to change it or influence it.  I would be able to create my own reality intentionally instead of just dealing with what happened.  It’s the difference between being at cause in life versus being at effect.

Lessons and Learnings

While there were loads of lessons and learnings that came in that first month, they all stemmed from one major distinction I had.  I understood, at a new level, that I was in charge of my life.  Said another way, I am the King who sits on the throne in the realm called Mike Irving.  That is my kingdom.  I am the ultimate decision-maker in that kingdom.  In fact. my number one function is to be a decision-maker.  And I’m always making decisions.  Therefore I’m always creating.  Every decision has a series of knock-on effects.

Now the thing is that the point of view you take when you make a decision has a big impact on the outcome of the decision.

When we look at history, we know that Kings and Queens who made decisions from the point of view called “What’s best for me” or “I want all the gold/power/credit” tended to create a certain result – usually it was anarchy.  Others made decisions from the point of view called “What’s best for us all as a community” – they generated a different result.  And others still, like the Hopi Indians of North America made decisions from the point of view called “How will this decision affect our children, and their children and their children” and they actually thought in terms of seven generations down the track.  This thinking brought about very different decisions.

We know that the point of view you take when you make a decision has a massive impact on the outcomes.  And I believe that each and every one of you is the King or Queen that sits on the throne in your world.

Your personal life, your business and everything else that is yours is your creation.  And your decisions create.  And the point of view you take when you make those decisions creates.  It creates an emotional reality.  It creates physical reality.  It creates a mental reality.

As the King or Queen in your world, you ALWAYS have a choice.  Leadership ability is suppressed when you use words that take away your perception of choice. Therefore, these words automatically suppress you as the leader that you are.  As the decision-maker that you were born to be.  The biggest problem is that you are using these words on yourself.  And you are allowing others to do the same to you.  And you’re likely doing the same to others by using these words.

What It Comes Down To

It comes down the feeling of responsibility (which for most people is usually a little bit burdened or heavy).  It’s something that others (society, parents, teachers etc) put onto you.  Listen to these statements (say them out loud to yourself)

I have to take the bins out
I need to get the paperwork done
I really should get to that job today
I’ve gotta get more on top of my game
I must make this happen

Do something for me – I’d really like to understand your reality on this.  When you say those words out loud to yourself, write in the comments below what you feel when you say them.  Do you feel light and energetic?  Do you feel willing and enthusiastic?  Or do you feel heavy and burdened?  Or maybe slightly resentful.  It’s likely that the feelings will be very subtle – almost not noticeable until you put your attention on it.

Now do something else for me.  Say the following statements out loud to yourself:

I’m going to take the bins out.
I’ll get the paperwork done today.
I’m going to get that job done today.
I choose to be at the top of my game.
I’ll make this happen

Do those statements feel any different to you?  Comment below.  What feels different when you say these out loud?  I’d like to know if this is making sense to you.  This changed my life, and I’m choosing to share it so that it can change yours.  It’s about response-ability instead of responsibility.  It’s about choice and creating feelings of interest and willingness for yourself, instead of resentment, anxiety or anger.

These are the words that I recommend you become of aware of (right now you’re using them without being aware of how often nor their impact):

Have To
Need To

What I learned in that first month was that every one of those statements gave me the perception that I had no choice.  And none of them are true.  Now it’s easy to argue that ‘I do have to take the bins out, because otherwise, they will stink.’  If that’s your thinking, then I’d ask you to inspect this again.  Every choice you make will have consequences.  Some of those consequences might not be appealing – and that does not mean the choice is not still available.

What we’re looking at here is what gets created for you when you make a choice with the perception (or point of view) of having no choice.  Again, it’s very subtle.  It’s a very subtle suppression of your birth right – which is to be the decision maker in and creator of your world.  When I used those words, I was standing up on top of my throne, and diving head first off the throne into a state of Abdication.  To abdicate is to step off the throne.  Abdication is the state you land in when you do.

Seeing as it’s your birth right to be on the throne, when you step off the throne, it’s feasible to say that you do not feel ok when this happens.

So your primary goal becomes to feel ok.  And then you drop down into another state called Resignation.  In Resignation we’ll resign ourselves to do one of any number of things (all in order to feel ok)- we will:

Lay blame
Make Excuses
Tell stories
Look for or come up with Reasons Why

Do any of these things actually work?  Do we really feel any better after doing these things?  No.  Perhaps temporarily.  Maybe.  And long term, No.  So then we drop down into another state called Ambivalence.

Ambivalence is ambi (many) and valence (cover up, or way of hiding – a box spring mattress will have a valence over the box to hide it, and your curtains will have a valence that covers the way they are mounted to the wall).  So Ambivalence is a state where we take on a role, or we act in a way designed to cover up and hide how we really feel.

It’s not a very nice place to live.  I found that every time I used one of these words I was diving off the throne down into Abdication, then shifting down into Resignation, and I was largely living my life in Ambivalence as a result.  It was all an act designed to cover up how I felt.  And at that point in my life I felt like shit.  All because of the use of a very specific set of words (phrases really) that gave me the perception that I had no choice.

Talk about suppressing myself and my leadership ability.  There is very little leadership ability when you’re living in abdication, resignation and ambivalence.

Learn How I Apply This Information

What did I do with this information?  The first thing I did was make a commitment to myself to be aware of when I was using those words.  It didn’t make sense to say I would stop using them, because I wasn’t aware of how often I was using them.  I also made the decision to do everything I could to ensure that I was staying on the throne.

It made for interesting conversations and morning meetings – I tripped over my words often in the first few weeks.  What I found was that it was as if, from when I first learned to speak, I had been bending over and picking up a grain of sand and sticking it in a bag every time I had used one of those words.  That bag was pretty heavy by the time I was 30.  Hence the reason I felt like shit.

Every time I heard myself using one of those words and changed it, it was like I grabbed a handful of sand and dumped it out of the bag.  Within a month, everything seemed different.  I was no longer suppressing myself as the decision-maker in my life.  So every day that passed, I was feeling more and more alive, free and energetic.  I’ve found the same thing happens to my clients.

What does this information help you to see differently?  I’ve spent considerable time with every person I’ve coached over the last 8 years asking them to inspect this information – and with huge success.

Please don’t just take this as truth for you because I said so.  I encourage you to inspect it.  Question it.  See if it’s true for you.

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