Obama & Christie: Out of tragedy, new possibility emerges … Part 2

  • Now let’s look at the same phenomena on the other side,  President Obama.  Jungians might say that Obama’s leadership shadow is exemplified in Governor Christie (and vice versa.)  Obama makes space for others to speak and be seen.  He tries deliberately not to take up space or call the spotlight to himself.  He possibly sees the Christie directive, passionate, emotionally expressive style of leadership as “old school” and not 21st century.  He prefers the servant leadership or the participative leadership model that has been catching on in the last two decades.

    There have been signs that some other kind of leadership was needed from Obama in addition to his preferred style.  Even his supporters have called him out for being too cerebral, for not wanting to truly fight for what matters.  For not saying directly what he wants, for not taking charge.  Take health care: Obama gave it to the Congress and Senate to work out without clearly saying what he wanted.  Christie would have told them what he wanted.  There are other examples of Obama refusing to find his inner Christie, but my point here is that most of us refuse the call to change ourselves in a new direction,when it is against our “winning formula” or the identity that has got us where we are today, or when we have held our way as better than or superior to other ways.  It is scary to give up what always worked.

    However, when we are called to change and refuse the call, something (Fate/Life/God) steps into to help us.  Sometimes through adversity or pressure and sometimes through offering us an example of our refused capacities in all their glory!  For Obama, enter Governor Christie dealing with Sandy and for Christi, enter President Obama supporting him and the people of his state.

    AND so  we get to glimpse another way to lead and to work together through their interaction.  We  saw that Obama had to ensure through his direct actions and calls to Christie that the government he believes in delivered for Christie.  He couldn’t sit on the sidelines.  He had to get in the game and direct it when necessary.  He made sure the red tape that everyone hates in bureaucracies didn’t get in the way of FEMA delivering the way he knew it could.  We witnessed what a working across the political divide could look like.  Now it is our turn to do the hard work of insisting we get it.

    To my eye, both men glimpsed their “golden shadow” in the other man in the aftermath of Sandy –the next level of greatness for each of them as a leader if they will take the journey of embracing their opposite style.  An Obama who takes charge and takes up space when necessary.  A Christie who recedes and makes space for others views and leadership or who leads via supporting others leadership.  Neither may know this happened consciously. But their unconscious is probably a little less frightened of being their opposite kind of leader.

    And so too, you and I.  Ask yourself:  “What it is I am most afraid of becoming?”.  Now ask yourself “And where in my life could that way of being actually be useful to me?”   You will discover that “Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure.” Ranier Maria Rilke


About Nancy


Nancy C. Wonders is an interior designer. The “interiors” she designs are psychological, not physical, space -- a client’s personal interior landscape, or the emotional barometer of a team, or an entire organization. Nancy’s office includes a “design bar” where clients have a chance to re-invent how they see themselves and/or their organizations. These re-structurings result in discovering what is fresh, new and alive. This discovery prompts profound, immediate change, on both the inside and in interactions with others. Read more»

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