To be or not to be

hamletAt the core of Inner Leadership is an idea, a pattern, a meme that runs through almost every aspect of our culture. It drives our advertising and shapes the products and services we buy. It determines the work we do, the careers we select, and the people we choose to be our friends, lovers, and life-partners.

This is the pattern that gave Shakespeare his most famous line, “To be, or not to be.” It is the idea that summarises the defining mantra of the most powerful nation on Earth, the American Dream that “You can achieve anything you want to.” This is the universal structure of the Hero’s Journey that runs through Star Wars, Casablanca, Breaking Bad, and almost every spellbinding, bestselling story ever told. It is the idea that one day we might grow to fulfil our destiny, our identity.

Who we think we are determines the clothes we wear, the cars we drive (or don’t), the food we eat, the friends we choose, the votes we place, and the homes and neighbourhoods we live in. It shapes the directions we choose to move forward in: whether we take the road less travelled or the well-worn path.

In a time of churning, when so many things are changing all at once, we can find life difficult not only because we have so many differences to deal with but (more) because each change can (seem to) bring some aspect of our identity under threat. People who voted for Brexit did so because they felt their identities were under threat, from immigrants or bureaucrats in Brussels. People who voted against Brexit did so because they wanted to keep their identities as strongly European. People who voted for Donald Trump did so because they felt a need to protect and rebuild their lost identities, by “draining the swamp” and “making America great again.” People who voted against Trump now feel their identities even more at threat.

Trump and Brexit are just two evolving issues in a world undergoing massive change. Hamlet in his struggles only had one question to deal with, so it is no wonder if we feel stressed.

What Inner Leadership provides us with is a process for working through our situations and deciding whether to accept what has happened or work to change it: whether to “suffer the slings and arrows” of our outrageous fortune or to “take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.”

You can apply these tools in a very straightforward way: finding more options to move forward, choosing the best, and then making it happen. Or, because the process is designed to engage at a deep psychological level, you can use the same simple, practical process as a method for achieving self-actualisation and individuation.

Whichever approach works for you, these simple tools provide a way to turn this time of change into an opportunity: an opportunity to get clearer on what matters most to you and become stronger and more focused at achieving it. They provide a framework and tools for deciding and becoming (and avoiding) whatever you want “to be (or not to be)”.

Adapted from Inner Leadership.

Photo By MCAD Library via

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