Ep 150: Completing As A Leader
One of the greatest tasks a leader must do is to ensure that tasks and goals are taken from start to end. They must see through the completion of processes in order to move the entire organization along. However, the path to completing things is not a straight line and often can be much more challenging than it seems. In this episode, Adam Quiney addresses this challenge. He talks about how a leader completes things at a personal and professional level, shining a spotlight on the impact of completing things, how to do it powerfully, and why it matters. Are you a leader who is seeking ways to properly complete things both in your personal and in your professional life? Then this episode is for you. Grab the top tips on how to complete things powerfully, today.
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Completing As A Leader
How does a leader ideally complete things at a personal and professional aspect? A lot of things come to mind talking about it.
These are conversations in service of causing leadership. I’m working on a new sound setup. I’ve got the same old mic but a new mixing board and I’m not recording in my closet surrounded by clothes and what have you. I’m not sure if this is going to work. It seems like it might be catching a lot of my breath. Otherwise, the sound sounds pretty good. Bear with me. We’re going to work through this. We’re going to see how it goes. The nice thing about this is I get to record sitting in front of my desk. I don’t have to grab everything and move it into my closet and get myself set up. What I noticed is that I had a lot of resistance to doing that. It was quite tedious, frustrating and basically creating inertia that got in the way. How it would go is that these shows, I delay recording them. I’d record them in a big batch then it was frustrating and the underlying experience of that is not what I want to create for myself.
I eventually got a new mic as well, a Lav mic but I don’t have that set up yet. We’re going to try a bunch of things. The thing that’s most important to me is that we don’t sacrifice sound quality. There are so many shows where you can tell they’ve been recorded on headphones. If you’re lending me your ears and letting me have exclusive access to them for this period of time, I want to make sure that we’re honoring that with good sound quality. I think that has a show stand apart and standalone. We’re giving this a go. We’ll see how it lands, how it works and play with it as we do.
How Do We Complete?
We’re going to be talking about Completion and Completing as a Leader, the way a leader completes things. What I mean when I talk about completing something is literally coming to the end of it. We can talk about completing when it comes to relationships or completing even a meal, completing the bag of chips that you’re eating or completing a job. There are a million different places we could look to see how you complete stuff. As humans, we have about 6.5 billion different ways of completing something. Many of them are disempowered. I’m going to give you some examples here of ways that we typically complete.
Here’s one. Slowly but surely giving up on what is happening and turning our attention towards whatever’s next. “This old thing in front of me is done anyway so what do I care? I’m completing it. It’s done.” Another popular one is we can ghost. “It’s over. I don’t want to be with that impact so I’ve decided that this relationship I’m in, if I’m even going to call it a relationship, is finished. There’s no more value left here for me so I cut off, I sever the communication. That way, it’s over and I don’t have to be with the impact of us completing our relationship.” This used to be a popular way. “I would end things and just vanish. We call it ghosting these days in the modern era of internet dating, Tinder and whatever people are using these days.
This has existed forever. This is not new to digital communications. I remember that when I was younger, I would go to a lot of raves. At raves, I always found leaving to be quite a tedious process. Everyone wanted to hug everyone else, “Did you write in my book?” It would take forever. I would connect with my friends and say, “Are you ready to go?” They’d go, “Yes.” We would make out like thieves in the night. People would go, “Where did Adam go?” “He left.” I was ghosting. I was done and I didn’t want to linger any longer. I didn’t have to, that way, be with the impact of me leaving. A funny place to look but it’s an example, nonetheless, of how it’s going to show up.
Next, we’ve got lingering. Even though our time’s up, ”Let’s hang out in the goodbye for another five weeks.” We sit around. We resist completing. This is another way of completing where we hang on. We clutch and clutch. Maybe you know people or perhaps you’re even people like this where it’s the end of the night, it’s time for everyone to go home, everyone’s put their shoes on and then you stand in the doorway for another three hours talking. As you can imagine, that clashes with my preferred or my more default style of completing, which is, “We’re done. I want to go. I want to already be home.”
Finally, another popular one is to cause a fight. “Since I can’t, don’t know how or I’m afraid to end this, I’m going to create a fight and then we’ll walk away from each other.” A very popular way of ending a relationship, probably familiar to many of you, be a jerk then they leave. You didn’t have to be the one to complete things. These are some of the default examples but we can come up with a whole raft of ways like popular or maybe not popular but undistinguished ways that we complete on something that we end the thing we’re currently doing and the way we leave it. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about completing something.
Next, let’s talk about the impact of completing this way. What tends to happen is that none of these are powerful ways of completing. They tend to be ways of getting the ending over with or suffering through it. There’s not a lot of intentionality and responsibility in any event. What then tends to happen is we leave like a bunch of rubble. We haven’t completed powerfully so there tends to be a bunch of detritus left around, not necessarily detritus in the sense of physical stuff but detritus in the sense of energetic stuff that’s left behind.
If I ghost a relationship then every time I run into you or either you or I run into someone that energetically feels or shows up similar, that energy gets driven back up. There’s still that energetic hook. We haven’t addressed that. Consequently, when we try to build something new, to some extent, we’re always building in reaction to that energetic rubble. We didn’t complete it. We didn’t clear it all out so we’re left reacting to the past. When we’re left reacting to the past, the past ends up dictating the future because rather than clear out what was left and complete it powerfully, we end up trying to design the future so it was to fix what didn’t work in the past. We ended up recreating the past in that attempt to fix it rather than forging courageously into the future from here.
The Whys Of Completing
Why do we even do this? Why complete whackily? We avoid completing powerfully with intention like a leader does for a few reasons. First, it lets us avoid being with our impact. If I disappear, I don’t have to sit around and feel the impacts that I’ve caused. If I ghost this relationship, I don’t have to be with the impact of me letting you buy into a relationship with me and then ending it. It lets me off the hook of being with my impact.
Often, I’m afraid of hearing about someone else’s experience. Another version of being with my impact, you’re leaving me. This is how it leaves me feeling. I don’t want to be with that. I don’t want to have to hear it so I don’t complete it, I ghost it or I suffer through it. I suffer through the end of the relationship rather than bring forward what’s going on and sharing my experience. Often, I have judgment for how I showed up and what I did or didn’t do. I don’t want to acknowledge that. This is a common one when we see people suffering through to the end.
This happens a lot in leadership and coaching relationships where there’s a period of time that we’ve agreed to work in partnership with each other and you haven’t created the results that you want to create. Consequently rather than bringing that forward and putting into space your judgment of yourself, me or whoever is supporting you, you don’t own that. You hide it below the surface. Where we end up is saying things like, “I’ve learned my lesson. Next time, it’s going to be different.” In fact, next time it’s going to be the same because the future has been dictated by the past. We’re not powerfully bringing something into space so we can address and complete it. Instead, we’re pushing it down, sweeping it under the rug.
Finally, another reason is we don’t want to dwell on the past. We want to jump to the next thing. “This thing’s dead to me. Why would I bother completing it? It’s done. There’s nothing more here for me. Let’s go to the next thing.” You end up with people that are good at starting things rather than ever being able to end them, they jump to the next thing. There’s a whole bunch of reasons why we do this. We come by all of them, honestly. You’ve built up whatever your relationship to completing something. You’ve built that up honestly because it got you here. It supported you in some way to get to where you are.
Completing As A Leader
Where does this catch us as a leader? The first thing is that we have to let things come up in order to let them go. If I’m unwilling to sit and be with the way things have gone and how I feel about it, I’m never going to be able to let it go. I was in a conversation with someone who they’d come to an event of mine. Maybe a year later they sent me a message. It was very polite, their message but underneath it, I could feel there was some resentment, some hurt or something along those lines. We got on the phone. The reason I got on the phone with them is that I must stand for people to get complete especially at my events. Not because I’m not okay with people having a disempowering experience but because I’m committed that that experienced with me, that event they came to, doesn’t linger and hold them back.
That’s the exact opposite of what we’re committed to. We got on the phone and we started to talk. He shared in polite ways and what he kept doing was justifying why He’d start down a path of like, “I felt a little bit this way.” He almost immediately veers off it and starts to explain why it made sense that he felt that way it was okay that he felt that way and he recognized that him feeling that way. A bunch justifying why. Even though he felt a certain way, he didn’t need to feel that way. It was like he was making it okay or erasing what he was feeling, which is going to make it hard for him to let go of it because he’s actively resisting letting it come up.
What I was present to is this man’s resentment of me and some event that had happened at the event he was at, some situation he found himself in. Life is going to provide you situations that you don’t necessarily like. Even if I’m doing my absolute best work and I’m on my A-game, it doesn’t mean that not going to trigger you, confront you with something or be frustrated. That’s the nature of transformation. As we were speaking, I shared with him, “This is what I am present to. I don’t have to be right about it but it feels like there’s this thing there. As long as you don’t let it come up and speak it as truth, there’s not much cleaning up I can do.” In order for him to be able to let go of it, he had to put it into space.
It’s like when someone has a judgment and they’ve got a story that’s wrong. I shouldn’t have judgment. As long as you’re actively telling yourself you shouldn’t have judgment, you can never give yourself permission to have judgment so you could then do something about it. Instead, you keep trying to talk yourself out of the judgment that’s underneath. That’ll never work. It just ensures it stays fixed and rooted. We ended up unconsciously creating the future as a reaction to that past. A simple way to see this in the world is by noticing how people tend to continually recreate the same patterns in their relationships. They either end up with someone very similar to their previous partner or they try to find a partner there shows up as the opposite of their last partner. The opposite tends to be the same almost always.
Why does this matter? Why are we talking about completion? Why does this matter as a leader? First, without the ability to complete the past yourself, you will be doomed to repeat it. As long as you can’t let it come up, address it, acknowledge it and move it out of the way, you’re going to keep that cycle going. If you can’t be with your own judgment about how things went, if you can’t allow that to come up if you can’t start to own that truth if only to yourself, I’m not suggesting you spray it on everyone and say, “I have a judgment of this. You’re wrong.” That requires someone willing and ready to hold the space for you to receive that.
As a starting point, many of us can’t even own our judgment internally. We can’t even give ourselves permission to have the judgment, let alone saying anything about it. We full stop and like, “I shouldn’t have judgment.” From there we get to, “I don’t,” which is a lie. As long as we can’t be with our own judgment about how things went, we’re not going to be able to move past it and you’re not going to have any capacity to hold the space for your own people to do this because your people are getting caught. As the leader, part of what there is for you to do, just like I was sitting on the phone with that person I was working with, your role is to support your people to move past their stuff to get complete on their past so they can move beyond it. The leader who’s not able or reliable to get complete on their own past will be unable to support their teams to do so. Likewise for coaches. Let’s talk about completing powerfully, what completing isn’t about and then what gets created from here.
Completing powerfully requires a willingness on the part of the leader to do their own work first, to get complete and then to hold the space for their team or their cohort to do the same. What’s going to happen as you lead into the unknown is things are not going to go the way you want them to. There’s going to be friction and mistakes made. It’s because we’re all human, we get frustrated, triggered, upset and annoyed. What we’re left is incomplete. ”That shouldn’t have gone that way. This is wrong.” When something’s wrong, we then try to put something into place to ensure that the wrong thing never happens ever again. What this does is it holds us perfectly stuck in the past. When you’re getting complete on your side first, there are a few places we want to look.
The first is, how do you feel about how this went? If you let go of how you think you should feel and give yourself permission to be present, what is there for you? This is so important. This is the first stage for any leader to get complete. It’s tricky because there are stories in the cultural milieu, I suppose, the zeitgeist, that leader should always see people with their highest and best self and leaders should always do this and never think people are morons or whatever it happens to be, yet your feelings are your feelings. They’re fickle, not rational. Let’s say that you’re angry and you’re believing in this person as a moron before you can move past that, you’re going to have to be willing to own that you feel like this person’s a moron. That’s scary for us because we’re worried that if we give that any space, it will grow like cancer.
The irony is that what has grown is our resistance and our unwillingness to own it. As long as we keep stuffing it down, that’s where it grows. This is a real challenge for leaders to begin by owning that part. I remember sitting with a different client, she was sharing about how the people at her office sometimes felt like she played favorites. I asked her, “Do you have favorites?” She paused and sat quietly for quite some time until she said, “I do.” That was an edgy thing for her to own at that moment. I’m not suggesting that she needs to go and then tell everyone I have favorites.
That might be what’s next, we don’t know. Before she can start to move past that, she’s got to be willing to own for herself, “I do have favorites,” because then she can start to be responsible for that impact and move behind it. We’re talking about how you feel about how this went. Any stuff associated with that that comes up, let go of how you think you should feel and what you’re meant to believe instead, give yourself that time, that moment to check-in like, ”What is true for me from my feelings?” It doesn’t mean it’s true in reality or in the objective world, you’re just in the practice of letting yourself feel what you are feeling.
The second question we want to ask is what are you letting go of or leaving behind at this point? This is as much a declaration as anything. What I mean by that is sometimes people are like, “I don’t know that I’m letting go of anything. I’m still a work in progress.” That’s okay. You can declare that you’re letting go like, “I’m letting go of resenting Paul for the way he showed up.” That can be a declaration, a commitment on your part. It may show back up later on, “I’m resenting Paul again. I’m going to practice honoring the declaration I made. I’m going to practice letting go of this again.” What are you letting go of or left behind at this point?
Third, what results have you accomplished? Most of us are slow to acknowledge our wins and fast to focus on what hasn’t worked. What results have you created? What wins have you had? What have you made happen? How are you different at this point than when you started? This is such an important part of completion because we often focus on what’s not working and do so at the expense of seeing any of the growth we’ve made. As long as we don’t acknowledge both the good and the bad, we have to give space to all of it to truly complete something.
Finally, what do you want to acknowledge yourself for? Anytime you’ve moved through a process, it’s worth acknowledging yourself. Without a willingness to acknowledge yourself, it’s hard to distinguish what worked. This is not acknowledgment like, “I can acknowledge that I did my best.” Like a concession. This is acknowledgment like, “I did an awesome job showing up this way. I can acknowledge myself for practicing generosity even though it didn’t go the way I wanted it to.”
I’m giving you a roughshod. When I work with people individually, there’s a much deeper process we go through. This gives you a roughshod set of four things to look at as you take on completing something, the end of a relationship, the end of a project, the way things went, how your lunch was. How do I feel about how this went? What am I letting go of her left behind at this point? What results have I accomplished? What do I want to acknowledge myself for? If you do this and move through it, that’s going to start to open things up so that the future can hold something different beyond a mere reaction to the past. You may have resistance to any of these particular problems. The ones that you have resistance to will often represent the places where there’s a breakthrough available for you as the places you’re most resistant, where the work will often have the biggest impact.
Let’s talk about what completing is not. Completion is not usually about apologizing or promising that things will go differently. That’s about fixing the past. What it is about is honoring how things went exactly the way they did go and didn’t go. As you’re holding space for other people to get complete once you’ve done your work as a leader and you’re holding the space for them to get complete, this may be a part of the process. More importantly, than that is simply holding a space for people to share what is real for themselves to be gotten in that sharing. This is part of why it’s so important for you to do your work first. If your job as a leader is to be able to hear and let them feel gotten about their complaint about you or how it went or anything, as long as you’re holding onto something in the past, that’s going to drive up your defensiveness.
Once you are squeaky clean, you’ve got complete and can see like, “I wasn’t perfect. It was my best start. I can do better. That’s going to make it so much easier for you to hold the space to receive what people share as part of their own process and getting complete. On the other side of this, people may wish for you to address what they’ve shared. You can feel into it and see what is called for. Most importantly, when you’re holding the space, you want to resist the urge to interrupt jump straight to apologizing or fixing. This is something we often do as a leader because we cannot be with someone else’s incompletion, meaning we can’t be with their resentment, frustration and disappointment.
Apologizing is one of the ways we avoid being with our own impact. If you made a mess as a leader, I hope you do because that’s how you know you’re practicing in the unknown rather than the areas that you’re already comfortable with, then there’ll be times when people are upset and there might be something for you to clean up. What we often want to do, as soon as someone starts to say, “I didn’t like it when you told me I was late. I felt like you were shaming me.” People will quickly go, “I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant to do.”
They’re trying to and as soon as any iota of like, ”Here’s the impact you had chosen in the space.” Scrubbing it away. What that does is it leaves people with the experience that you’re not willing to get it. We can’t apologize for something until we’ve got it. That’s how most apologies and relationships go. “I don’t want to listen to what you have to say. I don’t want to listen to my wife and how I’ve heard her. I want to apologize so we can move on and we can get back to doing whatever we were doing.”
As a leader, be cautious about this. Notice your desire to interrupt or jump straight to apologizing, fixing, making it better or making promises for how it will go instead, sit in the discomfort it has caused when you give someone space to share how they’ve been impacted. You will grow tremendously from your willingness to do this and you will create a tremendous amount of trust with people. Finally, stay out of their process. Let them share what there is there for them to share and then thank them for doing so. What gets created when we do this, when we complete on the past, whatever it gets created is built from a far broader context because there’s no longer a need to react to the problems of the past. The opportunity is open to creating something new. It doesn’t mean that we ignore the past but it means that we’re no longer stuck in the narrow window that is provided by trying to fix the past.
It’s like if someone had a relationship and they found that the person they were with was insecure and they are like, “I’m going to go looking for a new man. I am 100% committed, that man is not going to be insecure. They’re going to be super confident.” It narrows the window. It’s possible that that insecurity and the way that person showed up may not have worked on them but maybe they contributed to it. Maybe they are drawn to that security at the start. Maybe there’s an opportunity from that person’s insecurity and this person looking for the next boyfriend to heal and grow together.
All of that is eliminated by this narrow window that gets created when it’s a fix for the past. That’s what happens in our lives as we go forward, is we get more incomplete, we leave more rubble in the past, the possibility that is available in our lives become smaller. The aperture narrows rather than growing. Take this on, practice getting complete, look for places where you’re stepping over, fed up or mad about the past and see if you can grow a little bit by getting complete on it.
That’s everything that we’ve got for you. I would love any feedback you want to share about how the sound quality was. Did you notice a difference? Did you like this? Did this sound better? Did my voice sound richer? How were the dynamics? whatever other people talk to when it comes to sound. Next episode, we’re going to be talking about the impact that you cannot get present to. We’re at the end of the episode. I’m going to give you a little bump. Anyhow, I’m going to suggest that you join the Creating Clients course if you haven’t already. You can go to AdamQuiney.com/clientcreation. That is our first call and this is likely to be, at least currently, it feels like it would be the last iteration that I run for a little bit. I’ve run three of them now and I notice when I’m feeling inspired to create in the world, there is a nod in this direction. If you’ve been thinking, “I’ll do that someday, sometime, maybe,” now would be the time. Join us. We’d love to have you. You can also reach out directly to me for a conversation. Have an awesome week. We’ll see you next time. Bye for now.
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.