Where is the real pressure coming from for leaders?


Where is the real pres­sure com­ing from for lead­ers?

Part of the series:

Ian Watson and Elizabeth Lovius riff­ing on life as a lead­er


- What have you seen?

- You know, I was recently hav­ing a fol­low-up coach­ing ses­sion with one of the people that atten­ded our recent course and I noticed that he had exper­i­enced the course and he said to me, “I wasn’t sure what I actu­ally saw, “I was try­ing very hard to under­stand it.” And yet when we sat down at the coach­ing ses­sion, And we looked at where he was now, he sud­denly had this huge flash of insight and the insight was that he saw that he had been exper­i­en­cing extreme pres­sure and stress in the job, he’d been pro­moted a num­ber of times very quickly, being giv­en a lot more respons­ib­il­ity. He was a very dili­gent, com­mit­ted indi­vidu­al, want­ing to do a great job and he was over­whelmed with all of those things occur­ring a lot to him all the time, the desire to do well. And he had put him­self under enorm­ous pres­sure des­pite his ment­or say­ing, “You’re doing a great job, “we’re really happy with you, “please keep doing what you’re doing.” But inside of him he’d exper­i­enced this enorm­ous sense of not meet­ing his own expect­a­tions. And the idea that he needed to have a plan for everything all the time, and in our con­ver­sa­tion at some point he had this huge insight that not only did he not need to have a plan, but that plan­ning actu­ally got in the way of his nat­ur­al abil­ity, which by the way, he’d been mani­fest­ing all this time. And in that con­ver­sa­tion he saw that his whole life he had put this huge bar­ri­er between his nat­ur­al, innate poten­tial to come out and this idea that he had of him­self hav­ing to be a plan­ner and he wasn’t.

- Yeah.

- And I think that, it’s in that dir­ec­tion that when people look in that dir­ec­tion, sud­denly the sense of relief, and con­nex­ion with who they really are, you could say shines through and I know that his job, you could see it on his face, was a dif­fer­ent job going for­ward then.

- This is great, because what it flags up for people is that, let’s say the strategy, or the way of being that they’ve learned, which had prob­ably served them well at a cer­tain point in their life, there’s a point where we reach where often it’s past its sell-by date.

- Yeah.

- You know? And it becomes dimin­ish­ing returns, by which I mean a per­son has to work harder just to main­tain a cer­tain level and people start to feel that as a stress. It’s almost like the body’s way of telling us you can’t con­tin­ue in that old mode and expect it to work for you. But what’s nice to hear is that when he was able to just see through that and let that go, some­thing more help­ful emerges, which was already there and the only reas­on that he prob­ably couldn’t see it before, ’cause it was because he was too busy in his mind. And I see that over and over again, is that people, it’s not that they have to learn some­thing new, it’s more like a redis­cov­ery of what was already there. But it had been over­looked, you know. And what you men­tioned I often see as well, is that when a per­son starts to recog­nise it they real­ise that it’s always been avail­able. It’s some­thing that’s like, oh, well I used that here and I used that there and it helped me out here. Why wouldn’t it help here, too? Suddenly they join the dots and it makes sense.

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