All the characters at our round table, angel characters and traitors alike, want to be acknowledged. All parts of us want life. Rather than attempt to get rid of any part of ourselves, it is much better to find out what purpose it is serving, appreciate it, befriend it, and then find out how to make use of it for the positive.
Traitors once were angels. When we were little, in our family of origin, we developed survival strategies to fend off pain and get any kind of love and attention. Those survival strategies don't go away when we grow up and leave our family of origin. However, the new people in our lives are not necessarily like our parents, grandparents, siblings, and neighborhood friends and bullies. Yet we keep doing what we did when we were little, hoping that it will work. When it doesn't work, we find another coping strategy, then another.
Finally, if we're lucky, we stop and look at ourselves. Rather than relying on coping strategies that we developed when we were young, we learn new ways of addressing situations. This shift is made easier when we come to terms with the survival strategies we learned. This brings us into relationship with our traitor characters, whom we could also call 'fallen angels' or 'dysfunctional angels.' The more we get to know these characters, the more we can use their brilliance to help us be who we want to be and bring them out into the light where we can befriend them. That's what this month is about.
We left Sally as she is heading into The Perfect Position to speak with James, her headhunter. Her torturous inner dialogue shows her inner angel working overtime to get her traitor voices to quiet down. Her traitor voices are so strong that she is just barely able to motivate herself to walk into The Perfect Position.
“Why, if it isn't my favorite person!” John exclaims as Sally enters the suite. “Is James expecting you?”
“Well it's good that we see each other similarly,” Sally says wryly. “Is James available?”
“He's with someone but should be free to see you shortly. He has a bit of time before his next appointment,” John tells her.
“Oh, so you're just going to squeeze me in. Is that it?” Sally asks.
“Hey Sally,” John responds. “I'm sure James will be happy to see you and will spend as much time with you as you need. Don't start getting all spun up, really.”
“Spun up?!” Sally retorts. “Who are you to tell me not to get spun up! Why, I never!”
“Sally, I didn't mean any offense, really I didn't,” John says. “Let's just chill. Can I get you a cup of tea or coffee?”
“I'm sorry John,” Sally apologizes. “I'm on edge as you can see. I'd rather have a stiff drink. Thanks anyway.”
Sally picks up a magazine and starts flipping through it. John turns back to his computer and continues responding to emails.
“John, it's probably not right for me to ask you, but do you know if James has found anything for me?” Sally inquires.
John looks up. “I don't know Sally, but he'll be with you in a few minutes. I'm sure he'll be able to help you.”
“How can you be so sure?” Sally asks. “This past company has really had a negative impact on me. I'm sure word has gotten out that I'm a quitter and a loser. I'll bet he hasn't found anything for me.”
“How could anyone ever think that you're a loser? You're so far from that!” John smiles broadly at Sally.
Sally's eyebrows raise. Her half-smile communicates, “Yeah, right!” She goes back to flipping through the magazine. Five minutes pass. Sally looks at her watch and sighs audibly. With exasperation in her voice, she says, “John, you said James would be free in a few minutes. I've already been waiting ten minutes or more. Is he coming out or not? What's the deal? I'm getting really frustrated.”
John looks at Sally with compassion. “Sally, I know it's been longer than I thought it would be. Would you like to go the cafe at the corner? I'll call you when James is free.”
“He's probably not going to be able to help me anyway!” Sally gets up in a huff. As she's walking through the door, she says, “Don't bother.”
While Sally is dealing with her funk, let's see what Donna is up to. She has just left Emily's office where she coached Emily to shift her perspective when analyzing the problems with her project. Rather than have her blame herself for everything, Donna works to strengthen Emily's inner coach so that she can have a more objective view of the problems faced by her project. Donna knows that Emily will not be good for anyone or the project as long as she stays in her 'martyr' defense.
Donna walks into her office and stands by the window looking out. Lost in her thoughts, she's startled when Lorin pokes her head in and says, “A penny for your thoughts.”
“Hi Lorin,” Donna greets her. “I was just thinking about how I used to be and appreciating how much more I enjoy life and work now. All the hard work I've been doing on myself is really paying off. I'm so much happier, and I think I'm being a much better supervisor. I just spent some time with Emily who reminds me of how I used to be. It was really so painful, but I didn't know any better. The good thing, though, is that I really understand what it takes to get those self-critical voices handled. That helps me immensely with folks like Emily.”
“It's hard to imagine you being down on yourself Donna,” Lorin responds. “You seem so balanced and in such good spirits all the time.”
“Well, you don't see me all the time and certainly, I'm not always totally balanced,” Donna answers. “I have my moments when I have to fend off my self-critic and deal with my fears. But I'm grateful for your feedback. Thanks a lot. I do my best.”
“Well, if it's any consolation, I was really hard on myself before also,” Lorin says. “I learned a lot after coming to Future Space. I strive for excellence now instead of perfection. Before, I would have taken the gold for being a pathological perfectionist. I was miserable. But I do think it's part of our Type A makeups. I've never met a Type A person who was totally laid back.”
“Tom seems to be,” Donna replies. “I've been really impressed with him. But then again, I don't know him very well.”
“He used to be as self-critical as the rest of us,” Lorin informs her. “And he would be pretty down on himself and then on others. He's changed immensely since I've known him. I like him much more now. He's been great as a colleague. He's willing to put his opinions out on the table, he listens really well, and on top of all that, he's highly innovative. He's a great team member.”
“Wow!” Donna exclaims. “That's admirable. Have you told him as much?”
“Somewhat,” Lorin answers. “But now that you've brought it to my attention, I'm going to make it a point of telling him what I just told you. Thanks Donna.”
“You're quite welcome. So Lorin, was there something you wanted when you walked in?” Donna asks.
“Only to find out if there was any follow-up regarding that woman Sally whom you spoke with before she walked out,” Lorin replies. “Rahul, the COO, heard about Sally's departure and asked me if I knew anything. Apparently, Tom told him that you had spoken with her as she left.”
Donna and Lorin chat about the conversation that Sally and Donna had briefly, then Lorin takes off.
Sally's difficulty with her traitor characters has been fairly evident for a long while. It intensified as she got ready to leave Future Space. The strength of her traitor voices is palpable. If and when she gets a handle on them, she will, indeed, be one powerful and dynamic woman. However, as long as they are so loud and unruly, she will do more posturing and pretending to be what she really could be. That she was unable to keep these characters in check when she was in The Perfect Position is testament to how strong and unruly they are. Her angel character pales in comparison to the strength of her traitors.
Donna (and we also hear that Lorin and Tom) are in very different relationships with their traitor characters than Sally. They are all aware of them and have come to term with them. They no longer are run by them. As a result of their deep work on themselves as people and leaders, they are able to be compassionate and understanding about others' foibles. They are keenly aware of the impact of these self-critical voices and are also strong believers in the ability to make friends with them and harvest their fruits. Without any arrogance, pretension, or hiding, they embrace their humanness and support their teams to do likewise. At the same time, they are uncompromising in their desire for excellence. A great combination and a vote for getting to know your traitors.Back to top