As we walked along the Mercer Slough my friend described his hunger for competition.  This long time member of my CEO group said, “Sometimes it seems like I can’t control myself and I act inappropriate.”  Hearing his feelings took me back to a time in my own life when an impulsive need to compete had me “caged”.

While he was talking about competing he was also saying, “Being so competitive no longer serves my purpose and I’m wondering what’s wrong with me, why can’t I stop?”

In recent months, I’ve begun to discover the wonder of digital photography, especially the ability to collect images, select and process the best, and end with a digital record of the experience that inspired me, which brings me to my point.

In the world of photography, the term “raw” describes when an image most represents what the camera sensors captured.  In one sense it might be the most pure version, a kind of baseline image.

Adobe Photoshop introduced a technique called layering that allows software to stack layers of artificial modifications onto a raw image – ultimately transforming it into something much different than the original.

Like all of us, CEOs and managers have added “layers” to their lives.  In response to parents, teachers, coaches and others who earnestly shaped us into what they wanted us to be, we took upon ourselves “layers” we thought would earn their respect and favor or help us avoid their disapproval and disappointment.

Just like this CEO, the most effective leaders have increasing awareness of their layers and the impact they have on others.  Left in isolation though, this CEO would remain in a self imposed “cage” of personas that steer him away from flourishing – and that’s where practice comes in.

This CEO has a unique leadership “practice field” where he enjoys a team of CEOs that help him learn to flourish.  I have the privilege of facilitating his “practice field” and seeing every aspect of his life transformed from his leadership, to his workforce and family.  When leaders start practicing with peers transformation always happens!

When each person in a company can focus on utilizing and developing their raw talents (doing more of what they naturally do best, more profitably), the company flourishes, as does each employee and their families and even customers.  However, when a leader has a compulsive need to compete or extend their domain, they will unconsciously fill the space where another person could flourish.

When this happens we have limited space to flourish and we cope by withdrawing our hearts and adding layers, which is why employee engagement remains so low.

However, the space between is rich with possibilities.  Are you aware of these opportunities and expecting others to do more of what they do best more profitably, so they can flourish?  Or, do you unconsciously fill this space with your shadow?

In this hypercompetitive commercial world, the only thing that can’t be copied is how well your people learn, adjust and flourish.  Everything else becomes a commodity.

I’d love to know your thoughts.   Jim@peer-place.com



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