Do you think that the first thing you learn in a team-building program is about the team? It isn’t, according to Taking People With You, a leadership development program at Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM). It is about you, your preparation to join the team.
“A fundamental insight of the program is that team building is not, first, about the team. It’s about you,” writes Geoff Colvin in a recent issue of Fortune. “A lot of Taking People With You asks participants to look inside themselves. They rate themselves on truthfulness, reliability, openness, and self-centeredness. They think about how they treat other team members and how they view others’ mistakes.”
How do you prepare yourself for joining the team? How do you look inside yourself?
These are philosophical questions addressed by antiquity’s greatest thinkers—men such as Thales and Epictetus, who taught self-mastery. Resist any external force that might delimit thought and action, they said. Stop deceiving yourself, believing only what is personally useful and convenient. Self mastery requires ruthless candor.
The ancients argued that self-mastery involves a struggle to subdue psychological and spiritual forces that preclude a healthy self-reliance. The ancient wisdom clearly recognized that humankind has an infinite capacity for self-deception, to believe what is personally useful and convenient at the expense of truth and reality, all with catastrophic consequences.
As explained In The Ten Golden Rules, which I co-authored with Michael Soupios, self mastery isn’t a divine endowment, but a daily struggle — an inner war, a combat between rational and irrational elements, which is far more difficult and intimidating than any struggle against external opponents.
Winning this war takes ruthless honesty and a capacity to critically assess the choices, values, and lifestyle by which you choose to live: it requires that you stop blaming others for your shortcomings or wasting time manufacturing excuses.
In the process of reconstructing themselves, self-mastered people proceed without pity or leniency: they candidly assess their weaknesses, particularly the bad habits that undermine well-being, casting a harsh light upon a variety of self-exonerating falsehoods.
Most fundamentally, self-mastery requires a full understanding of who you are, and an accurate and unambiguous self-image that nourishes, informs, and updates everything you do. It requires an inner direction and self-determination. Self-mastered people are self-satisfied, quietly confident without being vain or proud.
In short, the self-mastered individual represents the integrated personality, a person operating at the highest level of human functioning — deemed “free” because the highest liberty is an understanding of self devoid of illusion.
Are you that person? Are you ready to explore the dark side of your inner being, the frauds and deceits that nurture a counterfeit reality?
Are you ready to reveal psychological deficiencies, and troublesome truths? Are you ready to cast a harsh and unforgiving light on self-exonerating falsehoods? Are you ready to commit to an agenda of spirited self-indictment — an honest self-discovery process designed to dispel self-induced frauds?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, then you are ready to join the team.