Monday, March 27th, 2017
YOU ARE NOT YOUR ROLE
After twenty days away from my world, I became acutely aware of shedding all kinds of roles–retired executive, writer or three weekly blogs, author of new book soon to be released, wife grandmother, mom, friend, sister-in-law, business woman, mentor to many. The roles fell away and it was restful, wonderfully empty time to fill (or not). I did not leave our house in Mexico except to get groceries. Not just doing nothing but taking a break from being someone.
So, this experience was on my mind when I sat down to write. I thought about the biggest blind spot most CEO’s have. It’s inevitable. Most people start a work life to support their personal life. That begins to shift when people are about 3-4 levels from the top position.
little by little the role becomes central and (let’s say it) privilege and power are taken for granted and become invisible to you. Often, it’s all others see.
I have helped many CEO’s transition out of the top spot. It’s easy to see how much of a person is left. Some thrash about terrified of not wearing the role and search to find another CEO position as fast as possible. Some get immediately larger as a person as if the role limited them and other top execs shrink and disappear as if they had no self other than the CEO identity. Often there is big hurt when former colleagues and friends drop the relationship like a hot potato. They loved the role, not the person. Always there is a shock and free fall of
finding a new identity to wear, often one that fits better, is tailor made and allows more freedom to be real.
I’ve seen and supported too many transitions out of the top seat of power not to know that
this is THE blind spot of power. You carry projections, blame, admiration, affection, honor,
success, failure, sycophants, power to raise people up, hope. The solution, if there is one, is to grow as a person as you rise as a leader.