Leadership Between the Lines

The Energy of the Wolf You Feed - Part 2: The being, the doing, and the gift.

The "energy, being & mindset" of feeding the wolf

The people in the first group, feeding the good gracious wolf, lean into the mindset of looking forward, learning, and being grateful for the education and "gifts" of the experience. They're generally being open, curious, humble, and even courageous. The energy created from this mindset and way of being is expansive, positive, productive, and positively contagious. It tends to create more and more of the same type of energy. The more this individual holds this mindset and energy, the more he feeds the wolf who is devoted to creating more and more of the same. From this comes positive behaviors to support the mindset, and thus more positive energy. The cycle goes on. (All of this supports the cycle you've heard me discuss of "believe, be, do, have" which asserts that what we believe impacts who we "be", impacts what we do, which impacts what results we have.)

On the flip side, feeding the big bad wolf will create the mindset that is rank with blame, abdication, isolation, and darkness. One feeding this wolf may generally be closed, ego driven, all knowing, and likely insecure (though they'd never have you know this.) The energy created from this mindset and way of being is tight, low, dark, and heavy, and unfortunately, it too, is contagious and has the ability to create more of the same. Once this energy starts to spread, other "wolves" are activated and other situations, which may have not been so bad in the first place, will seem even direr. The learning, and changes if any, from the original incident, are less likely to sustain themselves. This poor - likely very tired - wolf. The impact of this wolf is likely hard on the people around the person, but truly, it is the person feeding the wolf who suffers the most.

Even when it's difficult, we do have the ability to consciously choose which wolf we're going to feed. It can be a conscious choice, though often goes unconscious without this intention. While it may not feel like it in the moment, if we take a pause to give full permission to experience the emotion we're having, we can then manage that emotion and decide what to do with it. We can choose which wolf to feed. In this case, the individual who chooses to feed the good wolf; the wolf that will help her pull learning, come from grace and gratitude, and move forward productively and peacefully, is more likely to create a productive, positive and sustainable result from the event at hand. This is the art of giving oneself full permission for emotional authenticity while practicing self-management, a necessary leadership quality (which is another article in itself.)

The "doing & behaviors" of feeding the wolf

Taking it one step further we can break down the types of behaviors (that come from the mindset) of feeding each type of wolf. The person who feeds their good wolf, holding the mindset of forgiveness, humility, compassion, hope, peace, faith and even gratitude for the whole situation, will "get in front of the situation." They'll name it head on. They'll take ownership for their part. They'll look with earnest at where they've contributed to the problem. They'll apologize and do their best to make it better. They'll communicate - directly. They'll make sure no mess is left undone. They may even co-design (with the others) in the situation what a successful solution looks like. This mindset and these behaviors enable them to move forward meaningfully, productively and with gratitude, while taking the learning with them.

The person who feeds their evil wolf, may find themselves holding the mindset of superiority or inferiority, anger, resentment, sorrow, blame, and arrogance (to name a few), and will have a completely different response and experience. They may avoid the issue, thinking it's not their problem, they didn't create it, it's another's problem. They may turn a blind eye on where they're part of the problem. They may wait for others to make it right. They may seek out evidence that they are right. They may talk to everyone about it (everyone except the individual(s) they should be engaging with) to work through it (and likely in a manner of gossip and collusion that only feeds the evil wolf more and activates other evil wolves as well.) They may go into self-pity, flair up because their ego's been challenged, or simply jump into their boat on the river of Denial, where they'll blame others for putting them there. (Now, stop a minute and notice your energy going from the beginning of the article to this point...Even writing this my energy drops.) The negative energy that gets produced from feeding the evil wolf is palpable and contagious. (Consider how this shows up in your organization...it can spread like wild fire.) What's more, this mindset and these behaviors often result in resurrecting past wounds, "stories" or traumas they've been through in other parts of their lives (and organizational woes), which will awaken an even more conniving and tricky wolf. And all of these awakenings will commune in a nasty pile of evidence gathering for why feeding the initial wolf is not only justified, but absolutely necessary.

The gift of the bad wolf...

All this said, I believe the evil wolf and its presence can be a huge gift. Whenever I notice my bad wolf stepping up for food, I quickly learn that there is a need I have, a complaint or toleration to be addressed, a fear or an insecurity needing care, a dishonoring of my values, or something I want more of - but may not have the awareness around - until the wolf shows up. So given space, that wolf can actually be a gift. The trick is in my awareness and what I actually choose to do with what I find. If I realize energy is low and that I'm feeding my bad wolf, and continue to do so...I also have to realize I'm not likely to get far or create the results I want. I'm also going to soon realize that my bad wolf sends others packing - I'm not going to be too great for company. What is true for you about your wolf? Which wolf do you feed? And what are the gifts your evil wolf delivers? Look; they're there.

Field work...

This week consider how your wolf shows up, what it gives you, and what you want to do with it. If you're finding that you're feeding your evil wolf more frequently than not, consider what need is going unmet? What complaint might need to be addressed? Where are you afraid? What are you defending? What are you tolerating? Where are you simply mistreating yourself? What is the gift of your wolf? And take action to make it right. Even the littlest step can set you in the right direction. Often just the awareness is fuel enough to shift the pattern.

Next week I'll close this article with final thoughts on the big bad wolf and more on how to assimilate all of this into your life. Until then...mange!