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Persona of the year - How do you like to show up?




Or more to the point, what does your ego like to be seen as especially at work? We all have an ego and the vast majority of people are inadvertently ruled by their ego’s need to be seen in a particular way. These ways are referred to as personas. At Play CoLab we have worked with hundreds of people over the years, all high-achieving talent who are up for being better at leadership. One of the first areas we look at is their ego’s persona - the ways of being that they like to be seen as. No-one escapes this - even those who strut around mentioning the ‘authentic’ word. It is the starting point of shadow work which we do as a matter of course to help the leader understand what is actually holding back their leadership and their life, inadvertently and unconsciously.

The term persona is derived from the Latin word for mask or false face; the idea being that the mask actually hides the reality (fullness) of the individual’s true self. During the starting point of Shadow Work, through a particular process, people uncover their ruling persona and we often ask them to write it on an actual mask. Hence we have a cupboard full of masks and this afternoon as we were sorting through the boxes of masks (before we donate them to a local kindergarten!*) we did a quick analysis on the most popular personas of the last 12 months. “Persona of the Year” if you will and here are the results:


In first place: Hardworking!

In second place: Capable!

And neck and neck, fighting it out for third are Competent and High-Achiever! ( What is interesting about the bronze medallists is that it is not uncommon for these competent/high-achievers to have a spelling mistake on their mask).



What is wrong with personas? What is wrong with qualities such as Hardworking, Capable, Competent, High-achieving types? Surely we all want to be seen as those useful things? There is nothing wrong with those qualities per se, but Shadow Work challenges the ego’s unconscious need to be seen by others as such. It mines for the assumptions made by the ego, that causes the individual to over-effort in certain areas, leaving little room for other ways of being and keeping the individual stuck in specific well practised patterns.


Things get really interesting in Shadow Work when we look at the opposite ways of being that the ego dis-identifies with. These are referred to as shadow qualities and we get people to write them on the underside of the mask. Just because the ego is hiding these qualities does not mean these qualities are not lurking in the unconscious of the leader playing havoc with their reality. Play the clip below to see what's underneath these award-winning personas; what qualities these leaders have repressed, denied or are unconsciously ashamed of. This is the really interesting part of Shadow Work - diving into these unconscious qualities and exploring what they might mean to the individual if they were actually mined.

Shadow work is a fascinating albeit uncomfortable process that can have a huge and positive impact on your leadership and your life as you break old patterns to make way for new possibilities. It can be confronting and even if someone does get it on an intellectual level, there is a process that needs to be actually experienced for it to have any lasting positive impact. If you want to give this a go then know that Shadow Work Made Simple is our online self-paced course designed to make this game-changing process affordable and accessible to all.



*and if you see a bunch of pre-schoolers running around wearing masks that read things like “High- Achiever’! Or “Kind’! “Independent’! “Collaborative”!” and so forth…..you’ll know what’s going on!




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