The last leadership commitment says, “I never take myself out of the game.” The word ‘never’ is extreme in this context because it sounds so absolute; however, it is not intended to be a legalistic requirement as much as a passionate call to commitment and participation.
I acknowledge there are times when it is necessary and even healthy to take oneself out of the game. In the sports arena you can risk being further injured if you do not take yourself out of the game. I remember when I was a teenager playing hockey and taking a severe blow to the head. Back in those days we did not call it a concussion, we called it having your bell rung. I would sit on the bench until the confusion and light headedness would subside and then jump back out on the ice and risk further damage. Medical science has shown us recently that repeated blows to the head causes brain disease. Keeping yourself in the game risking brain damage is not courage and commitment; it is foolishness.
I also acknowledge that there is a time in a toxic relationship when it is necessary and healthy to take yourself out of the game. There is nothing noble about maintaining a relationship with someone who is negatively impacting your mental, emotional and physical well being. I am certainly a believer in doing everything you possibly can to rescue and build a healthy relationship, but sometimes it is just not possible.
So, why would I say never take yourself out of the game. I believe it is necessary at times to utilize extreme language to make an important point and to highlight what I believe is a problem. What I see as a huge problem in our society today is our willingness to quit on commitments we make to ourselves and others. When we get a little uncomfortable with what is happening to us or around us, it is so easy to say, I don’t like this and am choosing to withdraw and not participate.
The game I am specifically referencing here is the game of personal development. It is the game that I do not want to take myself out of. And, what I have learned over the years is that feeling emotional discomfort is often when the game really begins. A phrase I utilize often in Connection is; the answers are in the discomfort. It is in those moments that I feel emotionally uncomfortable that I need to stay present and ask myself, where is this emotional discomfort coming from? If I trace the emotion to its root I will find a belief attached to it. And the belief that holds the greatest discomfort for me is, I do not have value or I’m not good enough.
Over the past couple of weeks I had something happen that exposed this belief. A dental bridge that I had installed forty years ago fell out. When I played hockey and basketball in my teens I took a lot of blows to my face and teeth and ended up with a mouth full of broken teeth. My teeth have been a source of embarrassment ever since. I definitely had some work done to fix some of the damage including the dental bridge that I wore for forty years; however, some of the damage has persisted. Because of what I do, my face gets more than its fair share of exposure. I stand in front of groups of people and lead workshops and this past year I had a new website created for me that branded me as the focus as opposed to the Inside Out Company. My face is all over that website. It’s a little disturbing. However, I have had enough appreciation of my looks that I have felt okay with all the facial attention. Then my bridge fell out and I looked into the mirror, opened my mouth with a big toothless grin and came face to face with what I saw as an ugly old man.
As most of you know, an important focus to my teaching concerns accepting yourself just as you are and learning to get comfortable in your own skin. When I looked into that mirror I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. As a matter of fact, the first thing that came to mind was that I would hide away in my home and not allow anyone to see me until I got some new teeth. I wanted to take myself out of the game.
Deep down there was a Shadow belief stirring inside of me saying, ‘your credibility will be diminished if people see you this way.’ In that moment I was clearly aware that my appearance was an important part of the overall image I projected as a leader. And, I didn’t like it.
I knew I had to do something to overcome the emotional discomfort I felt and to challenge the shadow belief that my value as a leader would be diminished if I didn’t look great. So, I had Christine take my picture with that toothless grin and put it on Facebook for the entire world to see. It didn’t feel very good to do that, but it was my way of staying in the game of personal development and to keep fighting the fight against my most damaging Shadow beliefs.
What are you doing to not take yourself out of the game?