Ep 120: Leadership Sandtraps #6 – Oh Wooooooooow, What A Breakthrough

Have you ever met someone where every single thing is a breakthrough, profound, or a deep life-breaking and shattering moment? In this episode, Adam Quiney tackles another leadership sand trap as he talks about a person’s addiction to profundity where everything is a deep, life breaking, shattering moment. Learn about this type of sand trap as Adam digs deep down to its roots as it relates to mundanity and mediocrity. He also tackles the need to be recognized that feeds the ego more as opposed to having real breakthroughs. Tune in and learn how you can work with this all too familiar sand trap.

Listen to the Episode Here:

Leadership Sandtraps #6 – Oh Wooooooooow, What A Breakthrough

We’re going to continue on the path of our Leadership Sandtraps. We’re on Leadership Sandtraps number six. After this episode, we’ll go back to our regular programming. It’s not to say that we’re sending down sandtraps forever, but we’ll come to more as they show up. If you have a particular sandtrap or even just a thorny way you’ve noticed leaders that you work with or people you’re trying to lead, you’ll notice there’s a way that they show up hat seems particularly challenging where you seeing caught or not sure how to work with them or find it an issue or, whatever it is, send an email. Let us know because then we can create the content that will support you with that and allow you to create your leadership. Leadership is not created in a vacuum or a void or on a petri dish, it’s created at the moment with whatever you’re up against. The more you can share, the more we can co-create and that’s where the magic of leadership grows. You can send that email to PR@AdamQuiney.com. We would love to hear from you.

Wow, What A Breakthrough 

This week we are talking about the name of the sandtrap is, “Oh, wow. What a breakthrough.” You could repeat those words every couple of minutes. “Oh wow. What a breakthrough.” “Oh my God, what a profound shift.” This sandtrap is the manifestation in your team members and in leaders where every single thing is a breakthrough or is profound, or is such a deep life breaking shattering moment. It’s just how it shows up. To put it a little differently, it’s an addiction to profundity. I think that’s the active form of profound, or maybe not active, but it’s where everything needs to be profound.

This gets created when growing up, people have this real challenge with either not getting something or with being with the mundane, and third, it can be like people being afraid of being mediocre. It’s just that like you showed up and you were adequate. Out of that, there’s this need to be recognized, to be seen as making progress, to be seen as driving forward, and being exceptional. In the Enneagram typing system, this is commonly threes. People that are the Enneagram three type are known as the performers. They both put on a performance, but they also perform highly. They’re committed to being exquisite and excellent in everything they do. There’s a need to be profound to be more than just adequate

Leadership is not created in a vacuum, a void, or in a petri dish; it's created in the moment with whatever you're up against. Share on X

To the extent that the classic trap for the three is that they can lose a connection even to who they are. They’re like, “Am I myself or am I playing a version of myself?” They are caught in that. Anyhow, this sandtrap is rooted in that it grows out of that inability to just be another human and the tragedy of that is that we, as humans are both individually unique, profound, beautiful, and magical on our own. We are mundane, boring, adequate, and not a unique snowflake. Both of those are true and there’s a paradox in that. Truly deep leaders can be with that paradox and the tension it creates. This sand trap is created when people cannot be with one side of that paradox and they push to the other side. They try to resolve it.

Two Ends Of The Spectrum

This is a little bit similar to the other two sandtraps we’ve covered most recently. The “Ah yes, I am already doing that,” and “Oh, I’ve got the solution.” It can be used as a way to ensure you’re never a certain thing. You’re never maybe stupid or falling behind. In this case, it’s never average, never mediocre, never just good enough. Everything needs to be something profound and consequently, nothing is. More on that later. If everything is profound, then nothing is profound. We’ll come back to that. What are the two ends of the spectrum of the sandtrap? Just a reminder that every sandtrap has two different ends to it in a spectrum. You could think of it like one end is acting out or the giving of the sandtrap. This is how it shows up when you’re sending your energy outward, and then there’s the other end of the spectrum is how it shows up when your energy is more receptive. You’re receiving leadership from someone else.

If you had a sandtrap that caused you to disrespect people with less money than you, or more often the way people hold it as like, “I feel like I’m not worthy around people with a lot of money.” On the receiving the energy of the sandtrap, when you’re around people that have more money than you, you’re going to show up a certain way. You’re going to show up deferential, you’re going to show up obsequious. You’re going to show up very unworthy.

GL 120 | Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs: If everything is profound, then nothing is actually profound.


On the giving side of the sandtrap, when you’re around people that have less money than you, you’re going to either expect that from them or treat them with less respect or hold them in lower regard or whatever it is. Whatever energy we send one direction, we are both on the receiving and the giving. We are in the reciprocal of it. Now, people argue about that and that’s their blind spot. “I would never treat people like that because I hate it when those people do.” That’s why it’s a blind spot. For this sandtrap, the one we’re talking about, this, “Oh, wow. What a breakthrough.” On the receiving end of the sandtrap, team members that demonstrate this will receive everything they are given by the leader as though it is a profound insight.

There’s never a piece of feedback that bypasses or simply lands flatly on them. It always has a profound impact. There’s always a profound shift. This goes back to what I was saying about how if things are always profound, they’re also never profound. If something always has an impact, then nothing ever truly has an impact because how could it stand out from the surrounding noise? For something to be profound, there must also be a background of a lack of profanity, of mundane, of just the boring regularity of life or feedback or whatever.

If you’re like, “Adam, what’s the proof of that?” The proof of that is your experience of life. Your experience of life is not that it’s constantly profound. Your experience of being given leadership is not that it always nails you and hits the mark perfectly. Sometimes it lands flatly. That’s in part because humans are humans. We’re not perfect automatons. They know exactly what to provide every single moment and just need to provide it, and it’ll be a thunderbolt of insight. We can always check when someone’s reporting an experience to us that is always a certain way like, “I don’t know why I’m afraid of this because whenever I do it, people are always nice to me.” Whenever you hear that reporting, you want to check-in and get curious about it because that’s not how life is. Life is not always a certain way. People are not always going to be nice to you. That’s not how people are. People are the total of every way that there is to be with someone. Sometimes people are going to be nice to you, other times, people are going to be shitty to you. Sometimes people are going to be indifferent to you.

Humans are humans. We're not perfect automatons. Share on X

When someone’s reporting something, as an always, I get curious. Are they managing everyone around them? Are they managing themselves so that those people always seem to show up a certain way? Are they filtering so that they only have to be present to the profound stuff or the nice people or whatever? Anytime you, as a leader, are hearing someone report and always an experience, that’s a good place to get curious. The receiving side of this, and just to reiterate, is that everything is always profound, “Oh my God, I’m having a breakthrough.” These are the people that will have a breakthrough every single week, and that’s weird. That’s not how it is.

On the giving side of this, the energetic giving out of these sandtrap, leaders demonstrating and manifesting a sandtrap will feel a need to always offer something profound to the person they’re working with. It’ll be profound advice, profound feedback, profound reflection, profound suggestions. They might couch the way they deliver it in such a way that it occurs as profound, like who they will be about what’s happening is it’s profound. Consequently, what ends up happening is that they’re putting their attention first and foremost not on does this serve this person? Is this what will make the difference for this person? They’re putting their attention on, first and foremost, what is the profound thing for me to say? What will have the most profound impact? That makes it about themselves. It’s very subtle, but it’s also very insidious because it’s like, “I’m having this profound impact on these people that are helping them.” Except sometimes what helps people is just to be in the mundanity of life. Life doesn’t turn out always profound.

It turns out the way it turns out, which sometimes is profound. Those parts when it’s profound is when it’s profound. The parts when it’s mundane is when it’s mundane. The leader that always is trying to deliver something profound is doing, in a very subtle way, getting their own needs met rather than serving the person truly in front of them. It’s not to say that providing something profound, won’t serve that person. I’m not saying that there’s no overlap that there aren’t times to provide some profound and it’ll blow that person’s mind, especially if they have the reciprocal of the sandtrap. If you have people on the receiving end of this and the leader on the giving end, that’s a real match. Even if you don’t, there’s going to be times when you are like, “What’s the most profound thing I can say provided to them and it makes a real difference for them.” It’s not to say that there’s never value here. It’s just to distinguish, to illustrate that the leader is putting their attention first and foremost on getting their own needs met, and almost certainly are blind to it. That is insidious.

GL 120 | Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs: Anytime you, as a leader, are hearing someone report an experience, that’s a good place to get curious.


The way that all works are that they’re focused inadvertently and unconsciously on providing advice, coaching, feedback, whatever that leaves them feeling and looking profound rather than whatever will move the person in front of them forward. How is this a sandtrap? We get how it plays out. What about this is sandtrappy? Look on the receiving end again, which is that person where everything you give them is profound. On the receiving end, the sandtrap works effectively because it is incredibly rewarding to the ego of the leader, developing your leadership. If you provide me something and every time, I’m like, “You’ve changed my life.” That’s going to feel super good for you to have everything that you provide to me, land and occur is profound, who will make you feel awesome and you’re a rad leader. The trouble is that you’re not always going to be profound and you’re not always going to land perfectly and what you provide. Frankly, sometimes you’re just going to mess up. Hopefully, if you’re doing anything worth doing.

This is sandtrappy because it requires tremendous courage to confront this type of sandtrap. It means taking yourself out of the comfort zone off of the pedestal and letting go of the prestige this provides you. Your fear will push you back in this direction because it feels good and because you’ll be like, “Adam, I don’t know what you’re talking about because I know I’m making a difference for this person because they’re telling me every single week.” I would say, “That’s how we know.” A different way a friend of mine once worded it this way. I thought it was brilliant. It’s like, “People in the sandtrap have no ability to let something not be profound and that’s what’s in the way of them actually being profound. Instead, what they’re creating is the dance or the illusion of something being profound.”

Let’s look on the giving side. On the giving side, the trouble with needing to provide everything to people in such a profound way is that your commitment becomes about you being profound rather than about being of service to the person you’re supporting. Growth, transformation, and development are not always profound. Oftentimes, it’s very boring, frustrating, dull. Oftentimes what there is to do is to reflect someone, “Here’s how you’re showing up.” They are going to be like, “This is profound.” Next week you’re going to want to show them something again, that’s profound. In truth, what there’s to do, it’s like, “You’re still doing the same thing.” Next week they’re going to show up and it’s like, “Here’s another version of you doing the same thing.” After 4 to 5 weeks, that person’s going to start to get sick and tired, A, of hearing that they’re doing the same thing, and B, the fact that nothing seems to be changing. That’s where your client or your lead or the person you’re leading starts to get into a quitting conversation.

Life doesn't turn out always profound; it turns out the way it turns out. Share on X

This is the stuff of leadership. It’s getting people to this place where they’re like, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Of course, you don’t. You want to go back to the comfort of profound breakthroughs moment by moment because that feels better to your ego, but in truth, that’s the thing in the way of you having the breakthrough you are craving. The leader fixated on being profound can never really get there. They can never really support people to create this. The longer-term consequence of this is that the leader operating from the sandtrap will tend to surround themselves inevitably by people that relate to them and hold them on a pedestal. That’s just naturally going to happen. They’re going to draw people that have the reciprocating side of this sandtrap so they’re going to draw people that hold the quicksand that receives, “This is so profound,” which then reassures the leader that they are profound and then that dance continues.

The people that don’t play into this are going to get tired eventually and leave because while it occurs as fun and sexy and like, “This is so profound.” The truth is that their life doesn’t change. They might try to convince themselves that it’s changing, but their results don’t. The actual impact they’re having the world doesn’t shift. All that might change is their thoughts a little bit and maybe some actions on the surface. Maybe they feel a little more inspired, that’s often the case with this sandtrap. They’re inspired, but like it’s a little bit like running on fumes. Inspiration without any actual like meat behind it rarely creates the change that we’re craving.

Working With This Sand Trap

How do we work with the sandtrap? First, can you notice the way that this shows up for you? How do you provide feedback in a way that makes it about you? To put it differently, how do you get your own needs met via the way you provide something to someone? This is a nuanced and advanced level of developing someone’s leadership. Often when we’re gathered at an event like the Intensive and sometimes in The Forge, we’ll see coaches especially, but leaders as well, providing stuff to people but it’s clear that they’re while they want that person to get served, first and foremost, the feedback they’re giving is about themselves.

GL 120 | Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs: If you want to go back to the comfort of profound breakthroughs moment by moment because that feels better to your ego, it stands in the way of you having the breakthrough you are craving.


I had one person, I was doing a talk for the Bureau of Veterans Affairs and someone had just bravely come on and, and shared about their struggle and I was doing some work with them. They got clear, “I’m working so hard to not ever allow a complaint to exist,” which then means, that’s a bit of a blind spot for them. Someone said, “I have a question.” Their question was them explaining how they have resolved this issue for themselves. It sounds like a question, but it’s about them like, “Here’s how I’ve solved this.” It masquerades as though it’s for them or it’s for the group or, “I’ve got a question,” to move the conversation forward, but it’s secretly, “I want to justify to myself and maybe to everyone else how what I’m doing is okay,” which is not.

I want to be clear that these people aren’t wrong for this. It’s just our blind spot. We can’t see this. We can’t see that we’re being for ourselves at that moment rather than for the other person. We see that a lot when we’re working with leadership. Look for this. It might be tough to see, but just take on the question of, “How do I get my own needs met?” “How am I getting my needs met in what I’m providing to people?” It’s worth coming to that question from the assumption that you do get your needs met in some surreptitious way, rather than asking the question, “Do I do that?” That’s just a yes or no closed-ended question? You have a vested interest in not seeing this. You don’t want to believe that the thing you’re trying to help people with has distorted your ego. When you asked yourself that binary question, you’re going to naturally find a way to justify yourself being a, “No, I don’t do that.” Try it on. “How do I get my needs met?”

With team members operating from the sandtrap, it’s most important to point it out. Let them know that you notice this tendency and how everything always seems to be profound. Instead of it always having an impact, you can invite people to notice when something doesn’t have an impact when it doesn’t land profoundly. If they’re not having that, it always seems to be like, “Yes, those other times it wasn’t but,” whatever the reason is, you can invite them to consider like, “I’ve noticed life isn’t always profound. Have you noticed that?” That tends to be the evidence around us. Notice on the one hand, it’s profound and on the other hand, it’s mundane.

Go looking for that. What if that exists and you’re just not able to see it? People may protest that this just isn’t the case for them, but that’s simply because they’ve been operating in this way for so long that they can’t see it. It’s become a blind spot. Remember that the truth of reality is that life is both profound and mundane, beautiful and boring and there’s nothing new that has to be added. Just start seeing when things aren’t all that profound, rather it’s about letting go of the safety of always getting some magical piece of wonder gold. Look for these patterns and invite people to step out of it and get curious yourself like, “What am I getting out of this person who’s always having it be profound?” What if it wasn’t?

Life is both profound and mundane, beautiful and boring; there's nothing new that has to be added. Share on X

That’s the end of our sandtrap series for now. If you’re craving more of these, if you’re getting a lot out of them, or you don’t have to distinguish it as a sandtrap, we just want to know where are you struggling with someone else’s leadership. That gives us great insight. I can take that and break that out into a sandtrap so that then we can look at it together and see how do we work with this? How do we fit into that? All of that stuff. If you have feedback that you’d like to provide, I always love kudos, but I’m also 100% open to a desire for something different or you’d like to provide what might be a sand trap or something along those lines. You can email me at PR@AdamQuiney.com.

We have our The Client Creation Course. This is a course for anyone that is in a service-based business. We’re going to put special emphasis on coaching, but this is truly going to benefit anyone that’s engaged in the process of selling. What we’ll be doing is laying out over ten weeks the path to organically create sales, simply as an expression of you building a relationship with someone. No sneaky sales, no pushing, no like, “What’s the way to lightning bolt through their objections.? How do I get their objections and then crush those objects?” All of that stuff that most people think this is how it has to be, that’s not what we’re doing. We’re doing something quite it’s at cross purposes to that or orthogonal.

It isn’t that, and that’s not how it has to be. You can have a different way to create clients that feels joyous and freeing. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, you can send an email to Adam@AdamQuiney.com and ask for some details, or I’m happy to be in a conversation with you about it. Here’s the cool thing. In that conversation we get into, I’m going to model for you this work. You get to have a field like, “How does it feel being in this conversation with Adam? Does this feel like fun and easy and like I feel free?”

If so, imagine you’ll get to have the experience on your side of things that you’ll then be creating for your clients. I recommend just getting into a conversation so that you can, if nothing else, get an experience of what we’re talking about. I think it’s a really beautiful way to approach the world when you’re in the business of giving something to the world. That’s all that we’ve got. I hope you enjoyed the series on leadership and sandtraps. Next, we’re going to be talking about the importance of declarations. We’ll see you then.

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About Adam Quiney

I’m an obsessive perfectionist, high-performer, former lawyer, and now an Executive Mentor. I know what it’s like to succeed easily and quickly. To blindly put my happiness in the hands of achievement.

All the success, money and possessions in the world couldn’t cure my boredom. Couldn’t produce a loving, intimate relationship with my wife…and definitely couldn’t fulfill me.