Reboot Podcast Episode #51 – The Love that Heals: Welcoming in our Shadow – with James Hollis

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.

Episode 51 // November 21, 2016

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”


James Hollis

James Hollis

James Hollis is a Jungian analyst and the author of 14 books.

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Episode Description

Exploring one’s shadow is no easy undertaking. The idea of getting to know what Jung referred to as, “That which I do not wish to be” is rarely considered an exciting prospect. Yet we implore all leaders to be courageous and get to know and learn to work with their shadow. It is only when we do the work to make the unconscious conscious, that we are able to build true compassion for ourselves and others; freeing us to become the leaders we were born to become.

James Hollis is a Jungian analyst, author and lecturer whose work has inspired and influenced us at Reboot. In this episode Jerry and James talk in depth about the Jungian concept of shadow, how shadow shows up in leadership, and what we can do once we become aware of our shadow.

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

The shadow is continuously spilling into the world, whether we are aware of it or not. – James Hollis

We can’t take people farther than we’ve travelled ourselves. – Carl Jung

How am I complicit in creating the conditions at my company that I say I don’t want? – @jerrycolonna

You can’t take an organization farther than you’ve traveled yourself. – James Hollis

Do you think you have a soul? And if you do, what is it asking of you? – James Hollis

Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will control our lives and we will call it fate? – Carl Jung

“Why are the people around me so greedy?” “Great question. Who hired them?” – @jerrycolonna

[Looking at your shadow] takes courage. Or desperation. – James Hollis

What’s wrong in the world is wrong in me as well. – James Hollis

Nothing human is alien to me. – Latin playwright Terence

It’s a summons to love the unlovable parts of ourselves. – James Hollis

What if you find the most wretched person on earth is lurking in your own soul? – Carl Jung

It’s not as if the shadow can be left at home. It comes with us to the work environment. – James Hollis

I can’t take my company farther than I’ve taken myself. – James Hollis

It’s not what I do, it’s what it’s in service to inside, that makes the difference. – James Hollis

The world is no better than what I bring to the table. – James Hollis

Key Takeaways

What is shadow?

The shadow is a term that Jung used to describe those parts of ourselves or our organizations which when brought into consciousness, we find troubling.

Jung called shadow, “That which I do not wish to be.”

How does shadow show up in the context of work?

“We can’t take people further than we travel ourselves. Wherever I’m stuck, wherever I’m caught in an old adaptation, a complex or a fear, an avoidance, an evasion, is going to play out again in my intimate relationships and that in my work relationships.  – Jung

The greater the person’s capacity to affect change or leadership within an organization, the greater his or her capacity to influence it for good or ill. One shouldn’t be asking something of others that I really need to address myself.

Making the unconscious, conscious.

Whatever our own understanding of soul, it calls us to accountability. When you run from it, it shows up in troubling dreams, it shows up in anesthetizing addictions, it shows up in unconscious behaviors. It shows up in self-sabotaging patterns.

The unconscious parts of ourselves (aka shadow) often show up in patterns of avoidance.

These patterns are symptoms. Most psychiatry treats the symptoms which misses the point.  It is more important to ask why does the symptom come? It’s a whole different attitude. What is it asking of me? What is it bringing to my attention? What corrective is called for here?

Working with shadow

Leaders who are glimpsing their shadow for the first time must be courageous or desperate. Working with shadow is not easy!

The paradox is many employers and bosses are narcissistically driven. These are people who are least capable of self-awareness because their sense of self is so fragile that they constantly have to try it to see it reinforced by taking credit for the employees behaviors and productivity or by exercising power in a certain way.  That’s the kind of person who a terrible employer because everybody realizes that the telling motive that our relationships is about power not relatedness.

The strong person is able to recognize that what’s wrong in the world is in me as well.

The Work involves a welcoming home, those aspects of ourselves, those very aspects of ourselves that we would consider attributes of the human project and in a sense metaphorically to blow them a kiss and tell them that we love them as much as we love those other parts of ourselves.

Shadow and Leadership

We bring our emotional needs to every structure and every relationship. There is a lot of disappointment and frustration because people who want to a company to be their parents or to take care of them is just part of my shadow.

Power is not the problem. Power is the energy to address life situations.

There are two dynamics in all relationships: projection and transference. Projection means every moment is new and yet I continuously project at my own psychological history. Transference is what have been my strategies historically to deal with a situation.

The moral responsibility is to step into the practice of self-examination and your introspection. Ask yourself: What does that mean? Where have I been here before? What’s that about really?

It is love that heals.

The world is no better than what I bring to the table and if I can just clean up my small piece of the territory, I’m doing something for the world.