December 2015

The Angel

Be Your Own Champion

The round table, as well as the closet behind it, have all the characters that make up you. All the characters at the round table want the best for you. However, some of them are focused on keeping you safe, out of harm's way, and will protect you at all costs. Other characters want you to grow, spread your wings, experience new possibilities, and take more risks.

Those whose job it is to keep you safe are fear based. It might seem that they are against you, but really they simply want you to stay out of harm's way. These characters are dysfunctional, or fallen angels. Eugene Sagan, who created the idea of self-styles, called these characters “traitors” since they sabotage you and your best efforts so frequently.

The characters that are optimistic and trust you to land on your feet, Sagan called “angels” as they believe in you and support you to trust yourself.

This month, we'll focus on our angel characters.

Let's look at Sally and Donna with the focus of understanding how each of them use their angel characters.

We left Sally sitting in her car, attempting to pull herself together so that she could go into The Perfect Position to speak with James, her head hunter. After telling Tom, her boss, that she was quitting her job, Sally met briefly with Donna. She ended that meeting quickly after Donna suggested that she take leadership classes at Rewire Leadership. Sally stormed out, then, to her surprise and horror, fell apart in the car.

Sally's inner dialogue shows how tortured she feels. She swings from self-put down to omnipotence, arrogance, and anger. Then, an inner character who believes in her, works hard to get her to calm down, center herself, and regain her optimism. That character, her inner angel, is not very strong right now.

“Now Sally,” she says to herself, “pull yourself together. After all, you're a superstar and you know it. Just because those fools didn't see it, that doesn't mean anything.”

“I WAS a superstar,” Sally negates herself. “Now, I'm a nothing. James isn't going to find anything for me. He thinks I'm a loser because of those idiots at Future Space.”

“Just chill,” she then tells herself. “James has the utmost respect for you. He knows you're great and he'll find a company that is a perfect fit for you.”

“No he won't,” she argues. “I'm done. The word will get around and no one will want me. They have turned me into a loser.”

“Get off your pity pot!” Sally's angel character retorts. “It doesn't become you. You're a powerful woman and you need to remember that and act like one. It's those idiots at Future Space who are losers.”

“That's true,” she concedes. “But maybe I've lost my touch. I'm just too good for the ordinary company. James needs to find me a company of super stars.”

“Now Sally, you haven't lost your touch,” she responds to herself. “You'll feel better if you take a deep breath and go into The Perfect Position and speak with James right now. He'll present some great companies with good options to you.”

Sally takes a deep breath and lets it out. She sits quietly for a few moments, then says out loud, “Oh well, now is as good a time as any.” She gets out of the car, steps onto the curb, sighs, and heads for The Perfect Position.

Looking in on Donna, we see that she has left Tom's office where she let him know what had transpired with Sally, stopped in to appreciate Paresh, and is now in Emily's office to discuss WING...

Emily fumbles around for words and finally says, “Donna, I just don't think I'm up to this. All the problems with WING are my fault. I should have told you sooner. I just didn't do a good job supervising the contractor, and now it's all a mess. I'm a failure.”

Donna pauses and looks knowingly at Emily. “I see that you're in a major put down,” Donna responds. “Let's see if we can look at the situation from a different perspective so you can assess the situation more realistically and share the co-creation of the problems. How about that?”

“You mean that you're not mad at me?” Emily looks imploringly at Donna. “You don't think I'm a total failure? Do you really think others contributed to the problem? But as the project manager, I'm in charge and I didn't watch over carefully enough. So it is my fault.”

“Emily, that kind of thinking is not going to get you very far, nor will it solve the problems for WING,” Donna replies. “How about you start telling me what has transpired since the last review and how you addressed the issues.”

Emily begins. Occasionally, she slides into the martyr, claiming it's all her fault. Donna maintains her neutral position, supporting Emily to take credit for her efforts and exploring what she could have done differently. Rather than blaming the other contributors and organizations, Donna and Emily review all the choice points and look at what Emily could have done to strengthen the team's position.

“I get afraid to stand up for myself,” Emily admits sheepishly. “I see that I back down when what I need to do is become more assertive. I don't want our customers to think I'm too bossy. But I can see that I went overboard in the direction of wanting them to like me. I rationalized by saying I was being collaborative. But really, I was being a wimp. This conversation will help me have more courage. I will commit to standing up for myself more, and if I start going into my pleaser, I'll ask for help or get my inner angel coach to remind me that it's okay for me to take a strong position and that the team needs me to do so. I think that will help me stay strong. Donna, thanks so much for helping me get out of my put down and into problem solving. You're the best!”

“So are you Emily,” Donna replies. “Feel free to call on me if you start blaming yourself for all of WING's problems. I'm happy to support you in strengthening your inner coach.”

The women talk about some other issues on the team and then Donna returns to her own office.

Using the lens of the angel character, it is easy to see that Sally's angel is not very well developed. It is there attempting to support her, but it is easily subverted and overturned by a traitor character who is quite arrogant and blames profusely. The good news is that Sally's angel is making some effort on her behalf.

Donna, on the other hand, has a well-developed angel character so she is able to support Emily in developing hers. Emily's angel character is struggling. As she and Donna began to speak, we could hear that Emily's angel had lost out to her traitor characters and she was in a total self put-down. As Emily supports her to take credit, her angel gets stronger, she is better able to see the situation realistically, and she is able to problem solve. Her resolve to work on strengthening her angel is clear and we will see how well she does in the next several months.

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