Ep 123: Introducing Another Series: Along the Spectrum

Through his training from Accomplishment Coaching, Adam Quiney gained experience on ontological leadership. Through that, he introduces a new series on the spectrums of being. In this episode, he starts off by laying out the broad brushstrokes for the model and explains how the model works and how you wound up being the way you are. Adam also gets into specific qualities of being.

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Introducing Another Series: Along the Spectrum

We’re introducing a new series now. It’s exciting. I needed like a trumpet doodle, Planet Money, or I guess it’d be Planet Money’s indicator. They’ve got two separate podcasts. For a while, they were running a series on Friday called Jobs Friday and Cardiff Garcia, the delightful host would always blow an air horn. I feel like I need an air horn. They have not been doing it lately because the jobs report in the States has been quite abysmal along with the rest of the world. Anyhow, that’s a bit of a downer. That’s not where we want to start this series. I want an air horn to say along the spectrum, this is not a conversation about autism or Asperger’s or any of that stuff. This is a conversation about the spectrums of being. Let’s get right into it.

I’ll start by giving you the context for this episode, which will be laying out the broad brush strokes for the model that this is all about, that this operates in a high-level view. We’re not going to talk about specifics, I’m going to talk about the model as a whole and how that all plays out. Over the coming episodes of this series, we’ll be focusing and highlighting particular qualities of being. Some you may see in yourself, some you may see in others, and hopefully, that provides you ways to see the leadership that’s available for someone, to work with it and call it forward. This series is based on an upcoming book of mine and a model that I’ve created, an ontological model called the Spectrums of Being. I created this model over the decade that I’ve been trained, led, and developed leadership and been trained in leadership.

I originally was trained in ontological leadership, which is to say leadership that looks at how someone’s being rather than what they do on the surface. I was originally trained in that by a group called Accomplishment Coaching. I highly recommend their work and cannot speak highly enough to what the impact they had on me and countless other people. If you’re like, “I want to take on some coach training,” their work is second to none. They’re truly phenomenal. I learned even the idea of looking at leadership from an ontological perspective, from what is someone being, who are they being underneath and who is their more natural state of being, I learned that there. Over the ten years since that, I’ve built on this and created my model. A lot of my work is a function of this. Even though these qualities, the Spectrums of Being themselves are detailed in an upcoming book, you don’t need to buy or read that book to work within the model. Whenever I’m coaching someone, even all of these conversations that you get to be a part of on the show, all of this is inside of that model. It’s an offshoot of that model, it comes from that foundation.

To give you a little idea of how this plays out, whenever I’m coaching someone, I’m supporting them to do two things in the broadest sense. First, we’re looking in the foreground of their life and we’re supporting them to create the tangible results they want to achieve in their lives. Those include any goals they may have at their company or organization, as well as goals for things like family, romantic relationship, relationship with money, health, legacy, spirituality, but always what are the tangible results. Second, in the background, we’re supporting them as they create those results to become ever clearer on who they are as a human being, as opposed to who they’ve become or who they relate to themselves as, which are different. In addition to having them get clear on who they are, we’re supporting them to live their lives more and more as those qualities, those ways of being.

GL 123 | Spectrum Conversation

Spectrum Conversation: In the beginning, we’re born simply as beings with a purity of self. We haven’t learned what to be afraid of, nor what is safe, dangerous, acceptable, or anything else.


The easiest way you can think about this, I’ll give some quick examples. A lot of the coaching profession is focused on the foremost the first thing that I mentioned, the foreground, the doing, and so this would be coaching or even consulting that would support you to like “Help me create 1 million followers.” They’re like, “These are the steps you have to take, take them.” “I’m not taking that step.” “What do we need to do to make sure you take that step tomorrow?” There’s no addressing the underlying being. All the focus is on is getting you in the action and the right action. I assert that this is a bit spurious, or it’s not going to necessarily give you what you want. On the one hand, many of us could double our profits and the way we would do so is do what I’m already doing twice as hard. A lot of people will choose not to do this. Some people will and they will achieve the success of that goal, but their experience, who they’re being is exhausted, frustrated, tired. They’ve made that money, they’ve hit that goal, but who cares? Their experience of life sucks.

A lot of other maybe the new age or the reaction to that facilitative work tends to be all in the background. It was like, “We’ll support you to be more of who you are.” The results will naturally take care of itself. That does not tend to be the case. That has us being in a lot of conversations that leave us feeling good without us doing the stuff that’s scary and confronting. We want to create the results. We need to know what you’re tangibly committed to in your life and we support you to create that but in such a way that it deepens who you are. That you fall ever more deeply into the person that you are naturally. What that gives you is not only the results, the tangible, the phenomenological experience of life that you want. That is to say the tangible results, but it gives you an underlying experience of your life moment by moment, that is truly aligned with what is most natural for you. That is a beautiful rich life.

The reason I share all of that is so that you can get an idea of that’s what the spectrums are being intended to support you in creating and to support you in having people lead and be developed as leaders from that place. We’re going to explain how the model works, how you wound up being the way you are, and we’ll get into specific qualities of being as we go forward. Let’s talk about the beginning. In the beginning, we’re born simply as beings with a purity of self. We haven’t learned what to be afraid of, nor what is safe, dangerous, acceptable or anything else. All that a baby can do is express the being that is, there’s a quality to the baby that is theirs alone, and they express it. They haven’t learned it’s wrong to express in these ways and it’s right to express in those ways. These innate expressions, what I would invite you to relate to it as, it’s like people have certain qualities of being. That is what makes a human distinct. You’ve had this experience, if you’ve ever been around a toddler and you found yourself being like, “This is a weird thing for me to say, but this kid feels like a wise old soul.” That is, you have the experience of wisdom this child is innately.

This quality of being that we would call, experience or relate to is wisdom, is there from the moment that child is born, until the moment they leave this planet. For some people it’s wisdom, for other people it’s brilliance. You might be like, “This kid has a crazy good sense of humor.” That’s wit. It’s connection. There’s a whole number of them. In the Spectrums of Being, we list 25, but there’s an infinite number. The reason we list 25 is to give you a bit of like when you start tasting wine, a sommelier will give you some tastes to start to be able to distinguish. The whole purpose of this is to start to give you an ability to distinguish some qualities of being and you can create your nuance.

In the beginning, we are this light and we are who we are. There’s no real choice that a baby has, but to be who they are, they express themselves. They get training from their guardians, their parents, the world around them, their teachers, etc. What happens is that training teaches us that some parts of ourselves are either too much or not enough. Maybe you as a kid were like you are connection and in class that got you in trouble because you were always talking. You didn’t understand why you couldn’t talk. You’re like, “I’m connecting with people.” That’s natural. It’s not like you were doing anything different and the teacher yells at you.

In those situations, you learn to dim your connection and the situations where you learn that who you are too much, you turn it down. In other situations, you might have s an experience that you’re not enough of something. Maybe who you be is commitment and someone who’s having a bad day themselves is like, “Come on, work harder.” You’re like, “I’m already working hard. Okay. I got a double down.” It’s innocent. They’re reacting to life as it’s showing up for them, but the training you learn is, “I guess in this situation who I am innately is not enough.”

A lot of the coaching profession is focused on just the foreground of someone’s life. Share on X

What this does is has us respond by creating strategies to either dim, turn down our light, or to turn up our light. We do so in situations that look like those original situations that trained us in the first place. For example, someone who is a connection may learn two different strategies, two different aspects of their shadow. One that is underexpressed, that is to say where the volume has been turned down. One that is overexpressed, that is to say where the volume has been turned up. The underexpression of connection, if you think about it might look a little bit like introversion and the overexpression of connection might look like extreme extroversion.

You might already be starting to see like, “That’s interesting.” Someone who is connection might show up as both of those. Over time, we get better and better at simply stepping into these strategies. They worked in the past and so we try them again. When they get us what we need the choice into the strategy instead of into what is necessarily natural for us gets reinforced. If I learned in class, if I got yelled at, my teachers seemed to certain ways, they seemed frustrated and they yelled at me when I was connecting, the next time my teacher or anyone shows up looking that way, I’m going to dim my connection. I’m going to quiet myself. I’m going to notice, “I didn’t get yelled at. Great.” It reinforces that training. It reinforces that pathway.

As time goes on, these strategies stop being chosen and they become more reactive and automatic. What happens is I no longer have to run the mental arithmetic to determine, “This person showed up this way in the past. Therefore, I’ll do that.” Instead, it’s automatic. My neural pathway has been warned enough that it happens. As soon as that stimulus shows up, there is an automatic way that I show up, an automatic quality of being. This is what makes the shadows so effective is that we don’t have to think about them and they happen naturally. They stop being chosen, become reactive and automatic. When we’re presented with one thing, we show up a certain way.

Now, imagine we fast forward twenty years into time. We’re no longer at this point even aware there’s a choice being made. These things simply occur to us as the way we are. At this point, maybe I’ve gotten good at turning down my connection and I’ve even learned like, “The last couple of times I went to parties,” I was excited to meet everyone and I got made fun of when I was a kid and I got laughed at, “Why are you here?” I’ve pushed that forward. I’ve run that on loop for twenty years. Now, I’m at a point where Saturday night, there’s a party. I’m not going to go to that. I’m going to stay home and content myself. These strategies, we start saying things like, “I like staying home on a Saturday night instead of going out to the party.” Even though I might want to go to a party on some level, even though I might feel lonely, there’s a way that we learn to empower these strategies.

Not only do we empower them, but we also arrange our lives around them. We start to relate to them again, not as a shadow or a strategy, but as who we are, it’s the way I am. This is where most of us get stuck in our leadership because that is a place where possibility is limited. It’s attenuated. You can’t say like, “How could you show up to this?” I go, “The way I am is this.” It’s like someone saying, “I have ADHD. I’m a Gemini.” We have a way that we relate to ourselves and that has us be a fixed object. From that fixed object, there’s no moving beyond it. The thing is that these strategies are ultimately ways in which we are temporarily holding ourselves out of alignment. It’s not that doing this as a bad thing. For me to turn down my connection, that might be of service in a moment. If I want to connect with a bunch of people, but I’m at a somber funeral, now’s not the time to do that. It’s not even that these strategies are bad. Again, the problem is that they’re automatic. I don’t have a choice. I can’t say, “This is the point where I want to dim it.” I automatically dim it.

GL 123 | Spectrum Conversation

Spectrum Conversation: As time goes on, these strategies stop being chosen, and they become more reactive and automatic.


Because they are out of alignment with ourselves, it’s draining to hold yourself out of alignment over any period. Like if you were to hold yourself stooped over, that’s going to be tiring. Your body is designed to be held straight up, to have a straight spine, to have you support it, to have your head on top of your shoulders. If you hold yourself out of alignment physically, it’s going to be draining. Our shadows are the same way. Because they are a de-alignment, a lack of alignment with our being, energetically they are draining to stay in. The irony here is that the experience of feeling drained, we attribute to the circumstances, situations, or people as the cause, rather than who we are when we are around those circumstances, situations and people. The reason that we hold them as the cause is, we can’t see that this is something we are choosing. It’s invisible to us.

Instead, we relate to the issue as the person around us or the situation or the type of job. We say things like, “I can’t stand being around people like that. I find them so draining. I can’t work in that industry. It leaves me so draining.” We might say things that don’t quite sound the same way, but point to the same thing, like, “It’s impossible to do something you love and make money at it. It becomes a job.” That’s like a truth about yourself that you’ve concluded. Another one, the mother of all of this, “I need better work-life balance. I’m killing myself at work.” This is because you have learned a particular way of being that you continually choose into at work and that way of being leaves you exhausted.

Imagine if every time you were around someone that displayed a lot of confidence, you held your body in an awkward stooped over posture. You would find that tiring. You would be exhausted. If you didn’t realize that you were choosing to stoop your position down, you would say, “I don’t like that person. Every time I’m around them, my back hurts.” The problem is you are a stooping. This is the irony. I want to be clear that this isn’t like a thing you should know. It’s not like you’re dumb for not getting it. You can’t see this. You’re better off at this juncture not trying to see this. The seduction here is to be like, “Where am I doing that?” You can’t see it. It’s your blind spot.

The last thing we’ll mention here is that because these become the way that we learned to relate to ourselves, we tend to create careers where these aspects of our shadows are rewarded. Let’s say we have people that are radiant presence in a room, these are people with a quality of radiance or presence, they take up space. We notice them when they enter a room. We notice them when they leave a room. They have the X-Factor. It’s the quality of celebrity. Let’s say we had someone like this, but they learned to dim their light. They learned it was not okay for them to take up all the space they had. These people are going to have an exquisite ability to work in careers where they help other people shine brightly because they know what gets noticed. They have an innate sense of it, but they are dimming themselves.

The trouble is that we are creating careers that are ultimately a function of avoiding our fears. Share on X

When we can’t let ourselves express a certain quality, we will find ways to support other people do it. Simultaneously a little bit resent them for it because they get to do what we are unwilling to do. I have a lot of brilliance. From my brilliance, from my shadows, my fear of looking stupid, I would turn my brilliance up. What that looked, was a lot of arrogance. A lot of being right about everything. I developed an ability to argue effectively and debate voraciously, and to read and consume knowledge very heavily. From there, all of those strategies were fantastic in the court of law. I was good at standing while someone tried to throw ad hominem attacks to me, and then devastate them with cutting clear, concise arguments. It’s a fantastic set of skills for that career.

The trouble is that we are creating careers that are ultimately a function of avoiding our fears because this is what our shadows are about. Our shadows are not a function of like what would set my heart alight? What would be my deepest truest expression of myself? Our shadows are, how do I use my light to make sure that my fear doesn’t come to reality? Your shadows and the careers built on top of those shadows become about playing a game that you don’t lose rather than playing a game to win. Those things are different. That has people, at some point, wake up in life and be like, “What the heck? I’m not happy? What is going on? This isn’t what I want.” That is because we are pursuing careers where our shadows are rewarded.

There’s a lot more to this. We could go into great depth, but that gives you a bit of a rough model for how this fits together. We’ll do an episode where we’ll speak about a particular quality of being, how it shows up what its gifts are, how its shadows look and how to work with these kinds of qualities as a leader. One of the things that I’ll add is when people come into leadership conversation and are ready to develop someone’s leadership, they tend to relate to the person as their shadows rather than as the quality of being underneath.

For example, that part of me that’s arrogant and condescending rather than be like, “Adam’s brilliant.” What would have a brilliant person show up so condescending in these meetings? Maybe we need to address something there. They’d come to me with feedback like, “Adam, you’re arrogant” and they try to say it more artfully, then do the shit sandwich. The meat of the feedback and how they’re trying to develop me is like, “You can be quite arrogant so maybe tone that down.” That’s like operating at the surface of something. It’s like seeing a weed come up to your garden and so you clip the flower off of it. You haven’t touched the root of it.

GL 123 | Spectrum Conversation

Spectrum Conversation: Fundamentally, these strategies are ultimately ways in which we are temporarily holding ourselves out of alignment.


This is why so much leadership falls short. It’s based on such a surface understanding of people and the challenge is that on the surface, it all seems right. It seems to make sense on the surface until you can drop down to this deeper level of relating to people. From there, it’s like, “No wonder this doesn’t work. No wonder there’s so much poor leadership in the world. No wonder we struggle so much to create change” because we’re not getting at the thing underneath. That is what this work does. If you’d like to get a copy of the Spectrums of Being, there’s a very limited print run of the early alpha edition. This is not even like a printed copy. It’s a published copy but very limited. You can write me at PR@AdamQuiney.com. If we have copies left, I’ll send you one.

Next, we’re going to be talking about the quality of connection. We’re going to be talking about the distinction between extroversion and introversion and how often that is people mistakenly relating to themselves as an aspect of their shadow rather than connection deeper down. It’s a neat one because introvert versus extrovert is often a place people hold themselves and you get to see quickly. They’re both of those, who they are underneath, all of it is connection.

It’s a beautiful place to look. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If there’s any feedback that you have, we love to hear from you. You can write us at Feedback@AdamQuiney.com. I always appreciate it. It always makes such a difference when I hear from you. I want to express heartfelt gratitude to everyone that writes. When you write, it makes a difference. Thanks for reading. We’ll catch you in the next one.

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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.