Reflections on art and leadership

I use my art to reflect an artist and a senior manager in the financial services industry. I notice that the deeper I understand myself the more I succeed to impact others; in both art and work.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

La Valise Noire (6) graveyard of projected guilt

In this article you find several drawings I made for the La Valise Noire concept.
A few questions I asked myself.

Follow my feeling
and adrenaline
1. The objective was to visualise my dark behaviour and related guilty feelings. How did that influence my thoughts on that dark behaviour and thinking...
I have now made several drawings. I would think of some behaviour and specifically think of someone I might have hurt with that behaviour. It is interesting to phrase like that, as I am not sure I actually hurt someone in all of these cases. In some cases it would for example not (yet) be visible to others, and still drawing away my energy. In other cases I now wonder if others would see what I did as 'a big thing'. Basically I realised that I feel guilty based on my own values, and the way I project those on my own behaviour and that of others. And not speaking my mind on these topics or not expressing that guilt makes me digest it multiple times, and with every digestion it grows and touches me more.

Mother fighting Beatrice
2. Does it actually work to send the images into the black suitcase, reducing the guilty feelings and the loss of energy ?
In short, yes it helps dealing with dark behaviour and thoughts (at least for as long as I am now working on this project). Then I wondered why it actually seems to work. Explanations could be:
(i) I tell myself it should work, so it works. Basically the placebo effect. Well, that would by itself not be a problem, "no better person to manipulate than yourself"
(ii) letting go of negative images releases the pressure and removes the negative feeling. This is a bit like elements from the Neuro Linguistic Programming, where you visualise your negative thoughts and send them into the distance.
(iii) giving the dark behaviour and the 'victims' attention makes me feel like I have respected and accept the related lesson(s). I do accept the thought that I can not do everything right, and I can not always prevent others from being hurt. Important is the respect and the fact that I learn from my behaviour. This would allow me to 'accept' my failures and think I have suffered and learnt enough to respect the other person.
Storm surrounding
silent creation
(iv) just a coincidence or correlation; when starting the project I was feeling unstable and it would be logical that after some time I would feel a bit more relaxed than before, and maybe in some time the pressure will go up again.
(v) the guilty feeling is not the real cause (bit related to the previous point) and there is another element driving my reflections; earthly powers impacting my well-being, work related pressures impacting my other observations, finally getting blessed by God, escaping in my drawings (creating a different focus, distracting my thoughts), adding structure to my art and expression, etc. Some being more exceptional than others, but intentionally would not want to rule any of it out.

Basically makes me feel I should:
- focus on existing theory and research (psychology, philosophy, etc.)
- maybe try this experiment with other people (to improve statistical relevance).

Behaviour shadowing
parental love

3 In which way does this relate to leadership
Yes, I have avoided linking this project to leadership, and anyone is welcome to comment. I do feel that it makes some elements more clear to me:
a. if we can not guide ourselves, how could we guide others. Being aware of our own dark side is important to more objectively see what is happening and which actions are required. If we are not aware we risk basing our approach on perceptions > based on feelings that can be partly accurate and partly resulting from our dark side and how they filter the information that comes in.
b. Coach others; I have observed in coaching/helping other people it helps to understand the functioning of dark sides; clearly addressing the right behaviour, helping someone explore which behaviour is less functional and which elements need to be addressed, being able to provide metaphors for what is happening (will share some of those in one of the following articles)c. Be a role model for others in not-hiding-from-the-dark. Accept and understand behaviour, showing others it is human to have certain not so good behaviour, to look beyond the guilt, to look forward and make the best of it and not let it stand in the way.
Feeling versus 
risk of losing
d. Not letting other peoples negative behaviour reduce your energy level; as a leader you generally need a good energy level (people do not tend to massively follow people who are complaining and show negative behaviour). Remaining positive and constructive and reasonably balanced is key in getting teams have confidence and trust in their manager.

Well, guess those were just 3 questions and my quick replies. Anyone with other questions or wishing to challenge some of these ideas is welcome.

At the end of this I was looking at the right name for this article, and I saw the title of the below image; that is actually what La Valise Noire is: 

graveyard of projected guilt

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