What Archetype Are You Acting Out?
Here is a BIG question I want to pose around narrative. It applies individually and organizationally. While we don't conventionally think about it like this, leadership issues and organizational cultures take on archtypes all the time. The archetypes infiltrate the system and embed into the culture. It is one of the reasons culture work is so critical to organizational health.
Question: Are you narrating THE VICTIM, THE PROSTITUTE, THE SABOTEUR, or THE CHILD?
These four are categorized as the survival archetypes by Caroline Myss in her book Sacred Contracts. They are the survival archetypes because they relate to base instincts when being played out both negatively and positively. There are eight other archetypes we'll get to another day, but there's plenty to do and dig around with these.
In looking at narratives, we're finding patterns and habits to interrupt, seeing how those patterns and habits invite what we don't want rather than what we do, and shifting them to align with vision, direction, culture strategy, communication, and leadership philosophy.
The Victim's lessons are around relationship to power, control issues, and personal boundaries. The Victim is negotiating the convenience of avoiding taking responsibility for their independence versus the guts of self-empowerment.
"Teachers" who show up to your Victim archtype help you develop your self-esteem through honesty, integrity, courage, endurance, and self-respect e.g. your self-empowerment.
Entrepreneurs fall prey to the Victim, but also are fueled by its teaching. When the entrepreneur is truly ready to own her role as a leader, she transmutes her VICTIM into having the guts of self-empowerment and understanding her relationship to power, negotiating control, and establishing strong and productive personal boundaries. She no longer is a victim of her business, staff, purveyors, service providers, landlord, finances, taxes, etc. and instead takes responsibility for her independence and success.
The Prostitute's lesson is around integrity and selling your soul. For the sake of physical security (money, shelter, false love/admiration), how much are you willing to sell of yourself - your morals, you vision, your calling, your mission, your brand, your intellect, your integrity, your word, your staff, your culture, your body, your soul?
"Teachers" who show up to your Prostitute archetype are testing your faith in your vision, brand, culture, leadership capabilities, personal skills and reminding you to be faithful to yourself, your vision, your calling, your purpose. Confronting the Prostitute within you transforms it into your guardian, not allowing you to consider trading your faith for the physical, false senses of security, or ways of another leader or business. Your integrity is your business - not the way of someone else's.
What misery are you not willing to change or confront that erodes your soul? What customer or client are you perpetually feeling miserable serving? Who are you considering selling your company to that may feel like you are pimping your staff, vision, and company? Where are you chipping away at or making excuses for what you truly believe in e.g. diluting and excusing it rather than owning and promoting it?
The Prostitute unravels and erodes brands and cultures because (1) the vision isn't clear enough or (2) leadership deviates from the vision, doesn't commit.
The Sabateur's core issues are reluctance to allow change into your life, responding in a positive way to opportunities that will shape and deepen your spirit, expand and enhance your business, stimulate and energize your creativity. The Sabateur refuses to see around corners and doesn't act on the subtle messages of when, where, and how to pivot. Instead, the Sabateur settles, grasps at what they know, what feels safe, comfortable, and unrisky.
Teachers and teachable moments showing up to your Sabateur direct you to take action on gut instinct and hunches rather than rational thought. Rational thought will keep you standing still because the monkey mind is always going to play it safe, hide, stay small, attach to outcomes and narrate that you shouldn't or can't. Your Sabateur learns to listen to its intuition and higher mind and allows them to be primary guides toward what can be - to transform fear into manifesting. Stepping into opportunities that might be disruptive and taking responsibility for yourself, for what you create, and for what is calling you forward is the mirror of the Sabateur.
The Sabateur pokes at Leaders (who are everyone) begging them to look in rather than out, listen acutely, and find a rhythm with their intuition and senses. Ego is the SABATEUR in disguise.
The core issues of the Child archetype are around dependency and responsibility, growing up, and not being a brat who is overly attached to their inner wound. Life, safety, nurturing, loyalty, and family are the bedrocks of the Child.
Teachers of the Child push on "when to take responsibility, healthy dependency, when to stand up to the group, and when to embrace communal life." Your Child helps you to heal, repair, and stop self-abuse connected to the wounded, orphaned, neglected, or abandoned child. Your Child helps you to explore outside of "restrictive boundaries" and engage adventure without the limitations of the adult mind.
The healed CHILD is the guardian of Innocence, the one who can see through the eyes and sparkle of a child, to create, wonder, and adventure. The unhealed CHILD thinks everyone is out "to get them," has a hard time with feedback, and is challenged to comfortably participate in a collaborative environment.
Where are you creating or running the same old wounds, abandoning as a way to protect those old wounds, and neglecting what is your adult responsibility?
The CHILD challenges teams and dynamics, transparency, healthy risk-taking, creativity, and adult learners.
Consider these four as they might apply to how you structure your relationships, engagements, team dialog, company narrative, customer experience and service, leadership culture, business plan, growth strategy, or recruiting. What shows up?
Thinking about this enables you to consider changing your narrative.
Myss, Caroline. Sacred Contracts, 2002.