Reactions help you to SEE

Posted by Administrator | November 11, 2017 | Blog

I was pacing back and forth, stalking, fuming, enraged! I could feel the heat in my face and could sense that every muscle in my body was set to pounce. I was ready to rip apart every thing in that room. I wanted to tear into, devour and destroy the person I was angry with in that moment. The blood was pounding in my head; I was seeing red. Then I heard it, a grunt. It was the grunt of a bull, ready to charge. That was the moment I met my alter-ego, Bully.

As strange a meeting as that was, once I met Bully, I fell in love. I was intoxicated by Bully’s power and strength, by his rightness and certainty. He had an unapologetic ability to go for what he wanted without excuses, without regrets and with clear single-mindedness. These were qualities that I thought would enhance my leadership. I was impressed by Bully’s ability to make shit happen and in the world of business one needed to get things done, right?

In my blindness, I actually thought that having and using Bully was smart, this is how strong businessmen do it, or at least that’s how it looks on TV, so why shouldn’t I? Bully was my ally.

Bully was whom I defaulted to when I got scared and wanted to be brave. He was who I became when things were hard and I needed strength. He was my savior when I felt doubt and I wanted certainty and will. I am a BULL!!!!!! So I claimed my bull, I loved all the power and strength my bull gave me, I loved the determination. Until the day I had to face the dark side of the bull.

“She did what?????” I was seeing red! I couldn’t think; I couldn’t breathe. I was getting ready to tear my way through a situation. I was feeling upset and impatient. Something I wanted was not going the way I thought it should and was not happening fast enough. I wanted to make it happen!


After I had gone ‘full throttle’ into bull mode, which is when I moved into attack and became the authoritarian boss, out of the corner of my eyes I caught a glimpse of the people around me. It was then that I saw another side of Bully – rage and destruction.

Looking through the eyes of my team members, I could see that Bully had become, well, a bully. He left pain in his wake. Suddenly, the pride and strength I felt from being the bull turned into shame and guilt. It hurt. It hurt to hurt; it hurt to hurt others.

I decided then and there that if this is what it takes to run a successful company, I didn’t want it. Whatever success our company was having, it was not worth the cost of my heart or the hearts of others. I wanted to find a way to be different. I saw myself and I didn’t like what I saw. I needed to see deeper. I needed to see my professional blind zones.

Yet again, another story that I have been ashamed to tell. If you’ve read some of my other blogs you may have picked up on my theme – I get scared, I go into attack and then I feel like crap when I do.

While I have NEVER been proud of my behavior, I can say that I am at least grateful that my primary blind zone reaction is attack. It’s the obvious or externalized reaction. The one that causes others to make a face at you or for you to do something that is so obviously awful that you feel bad. This has played a pivotal part in me beginning to see my blind zones, or at least to go in search of them.

When on the other hand you can justify your behavior OR when your blind zone reactions at work come in the form of the not-so-obvious negative reactions, the internalized ones, this can create an even greater challenge. Internalized blind zone reactions at work can lead to the maintenance of harmful professional behaviors simply because they continue to go unseen, hidden in the blind zone.

For a long time, even my externalized reactive behavior went hidden, at least to me. I justified them by believing that some of these behaviors were both necessary and appropriate “bossing” behaviors.

Not unlike many others, I was using a reactive behavior which, Brene Brown identified in her latest book, Rising Strong, as Chandeliering. Brown describes this as a mechanism to off-load hurt. She writes “Chandeliering is especially common and dangerous in ‘power-over’ situations-environments where, because of power differentials, people with a higher position or status are less likely to be held accountable for flipping out or overreacting.” While no one could fire me for my negative reactions, I did experience the consequences of my behavior, such as low company morale, lost employees and lost income.

After feeling the effects of my reactivity on my company, I put time into seeing myself and into changing those behaviors. The result in the past five years is a completely changed company. I had someone say to me once, “your company goes as you go.” I didn’t fully get what he was saying to me then, but I certainly do now. Once I began to look at myself, take responsibility for my reactions and choose to be responsive in my behaviors, my company changed completely.

We have always been successful in terms of the metrics of profitability and delivering a high quality service to our clients. However, now our success has gone beyond our wildest dreams. Our gross income has doubled, so has the staff size and our client base. Our staff retention is now at 85% and morale is higher than it has ever been. We are truly a happier company, passionate and committed to serving our clients and giving our best. Client and employee satisfaction is at an all time high. My ability to see was the first step.