shadow work

It’s Sunday and I feel odd writing to the people on my email list on God’s day… since it is sort of like work. And yet, on this morning I normally feel more centered than most days. I also know that my reason for writing goes beyond Sales and scale and business growth. My purpose is to really serve you at depth. I need to write from my heart and not from some sort of place that has small threads of manipulation and fear and trying to say the “right thing” to get you to buy something. On Sunday mornings before my family is really moving I’m clear to do that.

So – here goes…

The Dark Side of me…and of you… that is what I want to write about this morning. Specifically I’ll tell you about a concept I learned about just this week called “Shadow Work”.

Why does this matter even to the the most business-focused dude? Because YOU … your inside…your thoughts…. your emotions…. your centeredness matter to the success of your business. It is amazing what a change in CEO can do to the trajectory and success of a big public company.


Since you probably aren’t going to replace yourself anytime soon – the shift in WHO you ARE and your mood and internal well being can be like changing CEOs for your awesome company.

You have an inner CEO that shows up at work and your team and your customers can see it and feel it and they will respond accordingly.

So what’s up with the Dark Side or the Shadow…

Let’s start here – what are your gifts or biggest strengths? What is your “Genius Zone”? It is good to list those things and be open to the idea of looking at the good things. Own your gifts. Don’t be overly humble right now. What are you good at? There are many things or you wouldn’t be reading this, that I’m sure of.

Now – there is normally a dark side to our gifts. Normally a way they get expressed that is not helpful.

Know what I mean? Are you at your best willing to jump in and try something new but then on the dark side likely to move away to something new before it is complete?

There are also shadows of our personality.

There are feelings and things that we repress. We push them down and aside and try to forget about them. Often times these are things that our Religious convictions or morals tell us are wrong. There may have been strict training or reprimands around our compulsions and desires in the past. Fear, Envy, Greed, Desire, Selfishness, Lust, Power Grabbing, Control…. there are many such things.

Asking for what you want is often treated as a bad thing by parents when we are young. Being too energetic and outspoken can become a dark side expression of us. Asking for money, talking about money are viewed as bad and we stuff them away and try to act “good”.

All of this stuff can get in the way of building a business when we don’t own them and look at them and see how we can use the Dark side or shadow side for good.

Shadow side things and the Dark stuff can COME OUT in a destructive way if we keep thinking we shouldn’t feel these things and keep repressing these things. Being intoxicated or HALT (Hungry Angry Lonely Tired) can make them rear their head in a destructive way. Nothing will ruin this amazing thing you are building faster than letting the dark side come out uncontrolled – a burst of anger, an indiscretion, a failure to act out of fear, deception, breaking the rules, etc.

So what to do… well this week one of my coaches called me on how I haven’t seemed truly present and in the moment on our coaching calls. He mentioned that my facial expressions indicate that I have 30 apps or so running on my internal computer. He said I didn’t seem trustworthy when he sees and feels me acting this way.

I thought – DANG – you are RIGHT! I said that I was feeling obsessive about things and looking for quick hit wins the way I used to when I was in the midst of addictive behavior. He ended up saying I should do some Shadow Work.

I hadn’t heard of it, so I looked it up.

For those of you who are pretty traditional straight laced conservative dudes…this stuff will be a bit out there. I think one of my roles in the world of the business owner men I coach is to go out there to the edge a bit and bring back practical ways of using these “touchy Feely” things. So…I’ll take a crack at it. First – if you really want to read more about Shadow work, check this site out: 

Scott Jeffrey in this article says:

“The shadow is the “dark side” of our personality because it consists chiefly of primitive, negative human emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, desire, and the striving for power.  All we deny in ourselves—whatever we perceive as inferior, evil, or unacceptable—become part of the shadow.”

Shadow WORK is basically working on the dark side of us and the dark side of our gifts – being intentional about this examination.

WORK like this is Stopping and getting centered and present and shutting down the 30 apps running in our heads.

I’ve been doing this with clients in the Space here at our farm.   Sitting in a comfy chair looking out at our fields (and soon cows!) makes it easier to settle down. We will work to do some of the same work at Turkey Trot acres in May. Just …..

slow down….




like an elite soldier…

(see )

Just open yourself to the idea of calming down and watching your own thoughts instead of plowing ahead into the day and your to-do list.

In the 12 Steps put forth originally by Alcoholics Anonymous, Steps 4 and 5 can be very good for exploration of your shadow and you can see how when you turn around your “defects” you can use them for good and for growth. You can do these steps with a coach or a trusted mentor or friend.  They go like this:

Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.   

In this step you write down your Resentments, your Fears, the Sexual harms you’ve inflicted on others, and the other Harms you’ve inflicted on others. You literally put pen to paper and write this stuff out. This webpage has .pdf sheets if you want to really work this…

Step 5 – Admitted to God, myself and another human being the exact NATURE of my wrongs.  

NATURE is the important word here. This isn’t a life story, this isn’t really about the actual Resentments (your anger at others and things for past events that keeps replaying in your mind when you think of them) and it isn’t about the actual Harms you did – those are in the past. The Nature of your wrongs is the shadow side. You talk this out with someone else who understands and in the presence of God so that you can see the root of these things.

The exact Nature are things like: threats to your (and my) personal relationships, your ambition, your pride, your self-esteem, your financial security fears, resentment, self-seeking, perfectionism….and more.

Conclusion….    Being Your best self as a business owner and builder requires that you take care of yourself – Body, Mind and Spirit. Taking a look at the darker side or shadow side and the things you repress can help you see how if you bring them out as positives they can help you grow. Just as there is a Dark side of your gifts, there is a Light side of your “negatives” if you use them for good. You are a powerful and amazing human being and child of God with everything you have experienced and everything you carry with you.

Getting in touch with these darker things and putting light on them can also prevent a blow out or a blow up that is destructive. Might as well own them and talk about them.

Finally – many of us today are looking for approval and quick answers and fixes and are super distracted because of these things Running as apps in our brains…running in the background, slowing down our computer, causing us to Blow up at ourselves or employees, causing us to sit in our office or truck thinking thinking thinking and not doing.

The first step is just stopping to take a closer look like an interested scientist at what goes on in our head.

Have a great Sunday and smash it next week!

It would be great to have a chat and catch up at any time about anything with you. Grab a short spot in my calendar.