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Thrive in Your Career and Life: There’s Light in the Shadow

Thrive in Your Career and Life: There’s Light in the Shadow

Yoga on Saturday in Saint Stephen’s Green was brilliant. The sun beamed a wonderful light and heat on us for the hour. This light was contrast by complete darkness set upon the grass four feet away from my mat by a shadow cast from a towering oak tree in the Green.

‘Where there is light, there must be a shadow’:

Psychologist Karl Jung believed that the ‘shadow’ forms a key part of our personality. The ‘shadow’ is the aspects of our personality that we like least. Jung believed that embracing these aspects of ourselves is key to achieving a sense of balance.

This is not easy. Naturally, we want to portray the best version of ourselves. The modern world, particularly social media channels, encourages us to do so. These social media channels also facilitate an untrue perception that the best version of ourselves is one devoid of any imperfections.

However, there are signs starting to emerge that we are giving more light to our ‘shadow’.  For example, the concept of ‘vulnerable leadership’ is gaining traction in the business world. This is the ability for leaders to share fears/insecurities and to be ok to say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I need help’. Researcher of the area of vulnerability, Brene Browne, deduced from her research these such acts of vulnerability are in fact acts of true courage.

Shedding light on our ‘shadow’ is liberating. It frees up energy otherwise consumed in by concealing perceived ‘frailties’ or ‘weaknesses’. Hence, why embracing our ‘shadow’ through exercising vulnerability is viewed as the root of innovation and creativity.

‘Faultless in spite of her faults’:

There’s aspects in us all that are imperfect. But the most beautiful people, the most inspiring at work are so often those who wear their imperfections on their sleeve. I struggled my way through Jane Austin’s Emma for my Leaving Cert. But I always remember how Mr. Elliot, who falls for Emma in the story, describes Emma as ‘faultless in spite of her faults’. Could Mr. Elliot have truly drawn that conclusion without evidencing Emma’s faults in the first place?

At Wellfest in May, Gerry Hussey spoke about how one of life’s great gifts is just to simply to be. Not to strive to be, not to want to be. But just to be. And if like me, you subscribe to this view than we must let our ‘shadow’ ­be part of this picture.

The weather, like last Saturday at yoga, is subtly reminding us of this too. Look outside. Anywhere where you see beautiful sunlight, you will see a shadow.

To truly be the best version of yourself in your work, and indeed everyday life, let your light shine and embrace your ‘shadow’.