Save the Drama for Your Mama

Save the Drama for Your Mama

A couple of years ago, I was asked to help lead a teaching session on the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The audience was a group of bright young interns at Cisco Systems in Atlanta. I joined the meeting via a video link. In the room with the interns was fellow John Maxwell team member and Cisco employee, Fu Che.

As the meeting began, Fu said something to the interns that I can only hope they remembered as well as I have. He told them,

“Cisco is NOT responsible for your career.”

How refreshing! I needed someone to say that to me 30 years ago. It is so easy for us to slip into a mindset that someone or something outside of us will magically take care of us and then, when things don’t go the way we want, it is everyone else’s fault.

As I shared in another post, this “To Me” way of life is where the Conscious Leadership Group estimates that 95% of leaders spend 98% of their time. This “fantasy-land” commitment says,

“I commit to blaming others and myself for what is wrong in the world. I commit to being a victim, villain, or hero and taking more or less than 100% responsibility.”

In the Hero's Quest course this is what I describe as the Traffic Jam level of awareness. It is the lowest and most crowded level of leadership.

Here is a familiar pattern of this state of leadership.
1. Something doesn’t go the way I think it should.
2. I become stuck in fear. (Anger often masks fear.)
3. I blame myself, others, or the system. (Sound at all familiar?)
4. Relationships solidify the roles of Victim, Villain, and Hero.

This dynamic is what is labeled the Drama Triangle. It is a fear-based blame/shame/guilt interaction.

This is the trap Fu was encouraging the interns to avoid by simply stating to the Cisco interns where the responsibility for one’s career lies.

The Drama Triangle is caused by the need to be right is so toxic because it siphons the energy necessary for creativity and healthy problem solving out of a system.
The key to knowing whether we are in an unconscious state and likely involved in a Drama Triangle or in a conscious state and living above the line is in the kinds of questions we are asking.

Here is the contrast.

In a Drama culture, leaders ask

“Who did it?”

“Why did it happen?”

“What is the root cause?”

“Who participated in the chain of events that led to this?”

“Who dropped the ball?”

“Who is going to fix it?

(Notice your blood pressure rising as you read that list?)

Here are the questions leaders ask in a curiosity/learning culture.

“Am I willing to take full responsibility for this situation?”

“What do I really want?”

“If there were no obstacles, what would I be doing with my creative energy?”

Am I willing to learn whatever I most need to learn about this situation?”

Am I willing to see all others as my allies?”

“Am I willing to see myself as empowered in this situation?”

“How can I play with this situation?”

“Where/when do I feel most alive?”

“What am I distracting myself from doing or knowing?”

Real transformation takes place when we choose to take 100% responsibility. This is when we practice co-creating our experiences.


Rick Burris


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