Radiologist: Are you claustrophobic?

Me: No.

There was a confident and perhaps somewhat cocky tone in my voice last week as I answered the radiologist. I grew up in a small town where the key attraction in the park was climbing through a small diameter culvert in a tobogganing hill. In the winter we passed the time and the cold by tunneling through man-made snow hills piled up along the highway.

I was quite comfortable being in a tight spot in my youth. But now I could feel my heart race and anxiety rise as I slid into the tight tunnel of the MRI machine. Suddenly my confidence dissolved into near panic at the thought of being in there for 25 minutes. I shifted my focus from the cold white surface of the tunnel to a small mirror that was attached to the head cover. In this mirror, I could see a reflection in the window of the observation room adjacent to the MRI room. In that reflection, I could see myself in the MRI machine. My anxiety vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.

I was still in the same tight spot, but somehow just seeing myself provided instant relief. With this new found calmness I reflected on the recent conversation I had with the Three Failures on a Couch. At the end of our discussion, Kathy Wiseman pondered ways in which business and family leaders could better come to “see themselves”. I pondered the same question for the next 24.5 minutes as I lay in the tight spot.

Leaders often find themselves in a tight spot. These tight spots include financial challenges, relationship challenges, ethical dilemmas, conflicting priorities, lack of resources, shifting market conditions, changing regulations, competition, etc, etc, etc.  When this inevitably occurs if you can somehow Shift your Focus from (seeing the inside of the tight spot) to (seeing yourself in the tight spot) you can Change the Game.

But how?

The next five blog posts will explore several lenses through which leaders can “see themselves”.

1 – The Human as a Part of Nature

2 – The Leader as a Part of a Multigenerational Family System

3 – The Leader as a Part of Social Groups

4 – Recipricol Functioning

5 – Distance & Pursuit