Money is very seductive…However much you say that you will not fall into the trap of it, you do fall into the trap of it.
—Rajat Gupta, former worldwide managing director, McKinsey
All of us have fears, anxiety, and confusion—these are an integral part of the human condition. By understanding our life stories, we begin to recognize and accept these qualities. Howard Schultz fully embraced his life story, learning respect for all people from his experience growing up in poverty. He also reframed his negative image of his father from a poor family provider to someone who never had the right opportunities. This ultimately motivated Schultz to build Starbucks into the type of company where people like his father would be proud to work.
Unfortunately, many leaders do not ground themselves in their life stories. Instead, they try to bury their past, and put on a new mask. Or they get caught up in chasing the world's esteem by trying to accumulate money, fame, and power, rather than pursuing their intrinsic motivations. Perhaps they fear vulnerability or lack close friends who can help them reflect on their experiences.
The consequences of denying or repressing your life stories, your crucibles, and your fears can be severe. It magnifies your shadow side that shapes your behavior but operates hidden from view. Many leaders with great potential lose their way because they do not face their shadow sides and wind up way off course from their True North.