Addiction Versus Authentic Leadership
Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 05:18AM
Paul Hunting

An addiction is something we feel powerless to stop or change. This can be a physical behaviour, a mental belief system, an emotional pattern, an unconscious ritual - pretty much anything. A vast percentage of businesses, from one man bands to global corporations are predicated not on authentic leadership, but human addiction. It's no wonder the majority of these, at some point, crash and burn.

Probably the deepest, most unshakable addictions we humans experience (even more insidious than drugs or alcoohol) is what we say after the two innocuous little words 'I am...' We are deeply addicted to an expression, not of our true, authentic selves, but of our false selves. Our ego. Personality. Self concept. We define ourselves based not on who we really are, but on what we see, feel, do, believe, etc. 'I am a man. I am white. I am fat, ugly and useless. I am a Jew. I am an Arsenal supporter. I am a two-pints-a-day kinda guy. I am a Chief Executive. I am a father. I am...

All of these labels seem to be true. There is certainly evidence to support them. But do they really define us - authentically?

No. Not really. Who we really are is something far deeper than our physical body, race, colour, religion or sexual preference.

What's the harm in these behaviours, we may ask? No harm necessarily if we are self-aware and not seduced by our attachments. But if we are beguiled, it's important to realise this false self, this ego, is driven by fear - fantasy expectations appearing real. It fears being abandoned. It fears being out of control. It feels deeply insecure. Why? Because it does not and can not know and understand the true security inherrent in the authentic self. It therefore continually undermines us by driving us to seek symbols. Symbols of security, meaning, importance, and filfillment. A symbol is by definition not the authentic thing - it's a substitute, a stand in. A large sum of money, say, depending on your unfulfilled needs, could be a symbol of security, power, wealth, authority, freedom, etc. Only a symbol.

The false self creates desires for things that cannot give us security and fulfilment. It becomes attached to those desires and the fantasy outcomes they promise but never deliver. It has a false belief hard wired that says 'If I can control my life, everything will be OK'. But life cannot be controlled. People cannot be controlled. If we want control, the only thing we can possibly control is ourselves, our attitude. And, most of the time, we do a pretty shoddy job of controlling that.

This addictive process gets worse. Birds of a feather flock together. It's called businesses, organisations, governments, corporations. We people club together with like-minded others jointly to pursue the same false promises.

We repeatedly set goals that are symbols and therefore unattainable and usustainable. How do we know this? Look around. We are in another recession. We face a financial melt-down. Whole countries in our western so-called civilised world are going bankrupt.

Despite miracles in technology we as a human race are enduring poverty, suffering, starvation, ignorance and disease on an increasing scale.

The absolute solution to this is the true self. 'This above all, says Shakepeare, to thine ownself be true, and thou cans't then not be false to any man.'

Everyone is an authentic leader. Authentic leadership gives you another choice. Instead of the dilemma of an addiction, you now have a new reference point, a new possibility, a new freedom. Few seem able or willing to access this capability. Those that do are the few that lead lives in the upward, positive flow. They live in the present, unshackled by a dead past and a dying future. These are the ones who are creating their lives and their business results out of an authentic, unlimited sense of possibility - not the myopia of past performance and a safe, predictable future - that never turns out that way.

How do we connect with this source of authentic power and inspiration when we're not sure it's really available - or available to us?

Here at horsejoyNATURAL LEADERSHIP, we let our horses do the heavy lifting. Horses don't have an ego. Without an ego, leadership strategies that are ego-based are incomprehensible. Their very survival as a species depends entirely on following authentic leadership. If you try to lead our horses with the same ego strategy you lead a challenging boss, client or subordinate, you will be thwarted. If you use the frustration and emotion this causes to become self aware and to take a risk, you will break through to your authentic self.

This, the horse recognises. He immediately follows you. You get instantaneous, honest, pure innocent feedback telling you where to look and how to be in order to tap your authenticity.

We, as coaches and facilitators, are poised to notice these priceless moments and assist you to build a deep and lasting pipeline to this vast source of untapped potential.

If this sounds like a valuable notion. If you'd like to know more. If you'd like to discuss if and how this process could really benefit you and your organisation - then please get in touch.

Article originally appeared on authentic leadership skills development (
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