Shadow work in leadership and business – have you done yours?

What can you and I do? In the spirit of conscientious responsibility and navigation of metacrisis complexity, what can we do that makes a difference?

Eff all is, quite depressingly, what I often hear. If that response resonates, read on. If you’re worn out with it all, stay with me. And if you’re someone with unwavering tenacity, optimism and belief in tiny acorns … you’re after my own heart, get in touch directly!

Doing nothing is the lazy answer. Often it’s a close down to uncomfortable questions that challenge convenience.  Why bother, if you don’t believe it will make a jot of difference?

I get it. Really, I do. On the surface it seems like a ridiculously intangible idea to imagine that the acts or  choices you and I make have any consequence. But, research tells us otherwise.  The University of London and University of Pennsylvania has found it only takes 25% of a group to  change the opinion of the whole group. If you translate that to circles of friends and work colleagues … real shift is infinitely achievable. If 1 in 4 people step up, universally, it’s job done.

What’s the change I’m talking about?

Well, if everyone stays stuck in their minds, afraid or unable to process their own triggers, fears and conditioned reactive behaviours (aka shadow work) the chances of shift happening, real shift, is negligible.

Sentience is the capacity and ability to feel. If you can’t feel, you can’t engage on an emotional spectrum and it’s a struggle to have any sense of conscious awareness.  Humans are sentient beings but emotional bankruptcy and the unconscious state of universal sentience (in other words, a global disconnect from feeling) leaves many people bereft, without knowing why. It may not always be recognised but it’s the reality of what is being experienced on a day-to-day basis.  A vast majority of folk are living by proxy; social media is a proxy for relationships, fast and convenience food a proxy for nutrition, Netflix a proxy for engagement, doing a proxy for being. All of these ‘stand in’ substitutes are avoidance tactics; they support the evasion of connection within ourselves and we’re all fallible. But this isn’t about cancelling your Netflix account. Nurturing personal agency nourishes in-the-moment  awareness and protection against the tsunami of proxies that deceive us all.

How does a ‘shadow worked’  human show up?

The patterns and seeds of change roll in from different directions.  I asked the lead practitioner of a transformation programme and the managing partner of a global business consultancy what their criterias were for assembling the best practitioner and coaching consultancy teams.  Their answers were remarkably similar. Yes, experienced and appropriately qualified people but here’s what caught my attention; they said if those people, no matter their qualifications, haven’t done their own shadow work (the process of exploring and addressing one’s own unconscious triggers, fears and traumas) then they wouldn’t be suitable. I asked the lead practitioner, “How can you tell?”. Without missing a beat, she said it was in their natural humility. Further;

“If they haven’t done their own shadow work, how can they show up with humility and unconditional acceptance for others?”

Think about that. On the one hand the erudite and experienced knowing of those two people and on the other, the appreciation and understanding that the internal weather that each of us operate from has a very real effect on others. This is of particular relevance for anyone managing teams or working in a one-to-one environment such as therapy work, coaching, teaching or influencing.

The illustration above is about professional selection but what about client choice?

This example of discerning practice could put many industries on notice. If we take the wellness industry and follow through in the support of  shadow work for practitioners (massage therapists, PTs, health coaches, nutritionists) it would mean an immediate culture shift and likely a healthier team. How many of the breath-taking spa venues globally, consider the emotional and conscious state of their teams? Is the ‘shadow work’ question even being asked? I’m doubtful.

That said, it is by some teams and the experiential results can be viscerally felt. Alternatively, as a client, you may just be someone’s eleven o’clock. Guest and client awareness is increasing. I’m hearing more than a few questions being asked (by would be clients) about the emotional state of the person treating them – how will spas and retreats handle those enquiries?

A call for greater consciousness is also being played out in the leadership consultancy world. Mckinsey is the biggest, most revered name in this sector. It has been described as the “No 1 CEO factory” but a recent anonymous letter thought to be from ex Mckinsey alumni, calls out the Firm for it’s harmful ‘growth at all costs’ strategy – it is a call to arms for pause, reflection and awareness, commercialism at all costs is no longer de rigueur although not everyone has got the memo.

These may seem like disparate perspectives but when the lens is broadened to include the metacrisis reality, you might see more than a couple of dots beginning to join. The liberation of inner healing (shadow work) and the power of internal technologies shapes the perspective of the world outside.  It means we will, by default, be a part of the solution not the problem. Helping humanity to feel again is the signature for that evolution.

And yes, that’s right. Deep is the new black. In business. In life. In living.

Receive Wellness Updates

* indicates required

Scroll to Top