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  • Ronan Harrington

Owning My Shadows in the Workplace



If you came to work with me, you would learn that I crave attention. When there's an opportunity to get the spotlight, I can often impulsively go for it, even if I know someone else would be better placed. And it's mine.


If you came to work with me, you would learn that I bullshit. I will hype up previous experiences to give the impression of having a level of expertise that should be expressed more modestly. And it's mine.


If you came to work with me, you would learn that I can resist rolling up my sleeves and doing the grunt work, thinking that I do the strategic, conceptual, and creative work, and the admin is for someone else to do. And it's mine.


One of the most powerful group practices I facilitate with teams, as a resilience keynote speaker and trainer, is a sharing circle where each person reveals their shadows that they are ready to reveal.


They share statements like those above followed by the statement, 'and it's mine', to signify that they own this, are working on it, and want to be held to account if it comes out in unhealthy ways.


As a resilience keynote speaker and trainer I've noticed that when teams do this, the level of relief, intimacy and trust goes through the roof. It's like oxygen arrives in the room. Finally, we can stop pretending! We are making explicit what we all instinctively sense about each other's unconscious egoic tendencies.


Do you have a tendency to gossip about colleagues? Do you conceal information when it's advantageous to you? Do you over promise to a client? If so, own it and begin the commitment to not do that. There's no shame, blame or judgement. All of us are on this journey.


The most beautiful part of this exercise is that after a number of rounds, we reveal what our colleagues would learn that is positive about us if they came to know us. We spend more time on this part so teams can focus on building on what is best about themselves.


This is actually more difficult for most people. To own our gifts and beautiful qualities is at times excruciatingly difficult. The most successful leaders can actually struggle to even identify three thing that are redeeming about them. As a resilience keynote speaker and trainer I tell my teams that is essential to come to know, encourage and liberate these qualities so each member of the team is expressing their genius.


If you came to work with me, you would learn that I am committed to healthy conflict. If I sense an issue between us, I won't bury it or allow it to turn into resentment. I'll bring curiosity about our dynamic and use any conflict to deepen our growth and intimacy. And it's mine.


If you came to work with me, you would learn that I'm relentless (mostly in a good way!) and driven to making a project succeed. My enthusiasm won't wane. I won't give up if it gets hard. And it's mine.


If you came to work with me, you would learn that I bring a wonderful lightness and play to our collaboration. I'm never far away from the cosmic joke, and will remind you to not take yourself or this work so seriously! Work feels more fun and joyful around me. And it's mine.


This piece was originally shared as a post on my LinkedIn and inspired by day-to-day insights from my own experience with burnout and my work as a resilience keynote speaker and trainer.

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