As I write this, the US has started voting but the polls haven’t closed yet.
As an Australian, I’m partly terrified at the prospect of a President Trump with access to nuclear weapons, partly relieved that the circus is about to leave town (what a friggin’ circus!), and partly intrigued by nature and scope of social issues that have revealed themselves during this campaign.
It’s safe to say that there is a lot I didn’t know about the American psyche before this election!
In amongst all this, however, there is a very interesting leadership lesson for thought-leaders and change-makers to wrestle with.
People feel you first.
They feel your vibe long before they process your carefully crafted soundbite.
Facts tell but stories sell. Feelings sell. Sharing straight from the heart sells.
And I think part of Trump’s rise can be attributed to this: Trump feels as if he is being true to himself. He really believes what he says. He doesn’t care what you think of him. His outside is congruent with his inside.
Let me be clear, I don’t agree with what Trump authentically thinks, feels and says. In my opinion, his world view contains such diabolical cruelty and untrammelled fear that he can only create unnecessary division, hatred and violence wherever he goes. BUT, he is unashamedly himself. He is a no-BS candidate. And I’m guessing that is part of his appeal for some of the Americans who are disenchanted with the status quo.
Contrast Trump to a lot of politicians and business leaders who come across as a bit cagey, bland or “strategic” when they speak. They avoid answering direct questions, deliver platitudes and can’t always be trusted.
They are navigating a whole swirl of competing electoral objectives, they are playing to a certain power-broker or influencer in the room, they are telling you what they think you want to hear, they are being dictated to by focus groups and polling, they are wooing the wealthy whilst trying to placate the poor, and you can feel it.
They’re performing a whole suite of roles to please others and it feels a little bit icky. Their outside isn’t congruent with their inside.
(And sometimes, of course, they’re flat-out lying.)
How do people feel around you?
Obviously, what the world needs is *way* more kind-hearted, collaborative and creative leaders who stand up, speak up and step up. In their own way. On behalf of us all. Being congruent.
But too many of us with big dreams and kind hearts get tripped up.
We get overwhelmed by the power of the status quo. We worry that we have to be just like them in order to have an impact. We bite our tongue because we don’t want to be excluded or targeted. We get trapped in our own heads trying to over-think every last detail and have an answer to every single possible question and please every single person we’ve ever met. We feel valued when others approve of us and thus turn into human pretzels in our quest to generate more approval. We don’t think we’re ready yet.
Our outside stops being congruent with our inside and we begin to feel a bit whiffy to others.
Whenever you say “that’s fine” when it’s not fine, they feel it. Whenever you make promises you have no intention of keeping, they feel it. Whenever you overstate the numbers or inflate the promises, they feel it. Whenever you say you care but you don’t really, they feel it.
How to become congruent without becoming a social pariah or a hate-filled lunatic
- Do an audit. The first step is to get real with yourself. In what situations do you hold back or become unrecognizable? Do you turn into a child around your parents and hate yourself for it afterwards? Do you tolerate blatant sexism in the workplace because you’re ambitious and don’t want to create waves? Do you refrain from sharing your ideas because you’re scared they’ll laugh you out of the room? Do you lie to your team because you don’t like difficult conversations?
- Forgive yourself for the people-pleasing and the role-playing and the fear of speaking up. Use EFT, it’s the easiest and most powerful way to shift this. “Even though I didn’t speak up in that meeting when my manager was making racist comments…” “Even though I wasn’t honest with my partner because I didn’t want to upset him…” “Even though I didn’t call that prospect because she’ll probably hate me…”
- Get connected to what you truly feel, think and believe. Who are you, deep down? What is your unique genius? How do you want to contribute during your time here on this planet? These can be pretty difficult questions to answer at times. And the answers will evolve. I’ve found journaling can help. EFT also helps – “Even though I feel so disconnected from myself…” “Even though I’ve spent my whole life pleasing others and I’ve forgotten me…”
- Ditch any need to be perfect in your quest for congruence. Firstly, there’s so little congruence out there that a 1% improvement on your behalf will feel, to others, as if sparkling diamonds are tumbling from the sky. Secondly, perfectionism is just another form of fear. Use EFT if you feel yourself descending into the flaming pits of perfectionism. “Even though I have to do everything perfectly or else…” “Even though I’m only worthy if I’m perfect..”
- Take a teeny-tiny step forward. Big dreams are made real through a whole series of teeny-tiny steps forward. If you want to speak up more in the workplace, you don’t have to jump into pitching the entire executive team at 9am tomorrow. Perhaps start by asking your direct manager if s(he) is open to a new idea and see how they respond. If you want to shift a dynamic in a personal relationship, you don’t need create a messy, teary confrontation. Make a small request and see how they respond. If you’re ready for a career change, you don’t have to apply for any jobs yet. Chat to someone in the industry and figure out if it’s a good match for you.
- Reward yourself. If you took a teeny-tiny step forward, take a deep breath and allow the feeling of success to soak through all your cells. You did good – own it!
- Be open to working on your vibe every day. Every single day, people respond to how they feel around you. Get the basics right – sleep well, eat well, move well, do well. And use tools like EFT and meditation to continually clear out the fears and the blocks and any muddy incongruence that pops up. (That’s where the power is!)
Lead with kindness always
And finally, a word of caution – please be discerning. There’s a big difference between being congruent and being mean. And there’s an art to communicating with authenticity and congruence whilst still behaving as a responsible, caring grown-up. It’s never appropriate to spew your angry and hurt feelings all over someone else. Lead with kindness always.
And if you’re ready for some support either clearing out your blocks or communicating with authenticity, I’d love to help. Please enquire about coaching here: email@example.com