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  • John Patrick Starling

Rewired for Success

How are you wired?

I have come across many individuals who are wired for success: they are driven, competitive, innovative, and compassionate. There are also individuals who believe they’re destined to be losers. You are who you believe yourself to be. Unless you are introspective and build a better version of yourself, you are whoever the world has illusioned you to be.

Your wiring gives you an innate capability that only self-analysis can reveal. Engaging in it allows you to measure your aptitude, locate your blind spots, make intelligent decisions, show up, and improve your problem-solving skills. And most of all, that level of self-awareness helps you develop your emotional intelligence (EI), which for most people is a greater requisite for success than your intelligence quotient (IQ).

Blowing a circuit

A significant part of self-awareness is EI, something I didn’t have much access to during my early years of adulthood. This influenced my wiring as a leader, leaving me disconnected from opportunities for self-leadership, which put me at a disadvantage in my professional relationships.

Early in my career, I had an aggressive leadership style that commanded the submission of those who interacted with me. I was an in-demand consultant by my early thirties, but I came with a warning label. My lack of emotional intelligence pushed a lot of people (who I really wanted to help grow their companies) away. A lot of companies needed me, but not everyone could put up with me.

And then one day, I had a massive reset. A client I highly respect and admire took me out to lunch and told me, “John, I love your work: you’re the best consultant I’ve ever hired and I like what you do for my business, but I don’t want to work with you anymore because you disenfranchise my team.” That hit me like a two by four.

Changing your wiring to become a better leader

What is self-leadership? It’s experiencing the world through your Self—using your consciousness as a vantage point to discover the world, and others around you. And you can do that.

Some things that will change your wiring:

  1. The easy way: Coaching, leadership courses, professional training, therapy and other guidance.

  2. The hard way: A significant emotional event that hits you at your core, such as loss or death.

When I was fired by the client I wanted to continue working with, he helped me realize that it was not because of my work performance, but because of how I showed up. It was not a ‘what’ problem; it was a ‘who’ and ‘how’ problem. The way I was showing up didn’t resonate in a way that made people want to work with me. This event became one of two things that would change my wiring forever.

A positive connection to your Self

A couple of years later, I was given a reminder of this deep reset by a coach from a renowned leadership organization. He offered me a chance to do a presentation for his organization, which I refused immediately. He recognized my knack for public speaking and wanted me to address his audience, but I was worried about how I might react if someone in the audience took a shot at me. I knew that my (likely visceral) reaction in such a situation could harm his organization, and I didn’t want to put his reputation at risk.

There’s an old saying in martial arts that goes: When attacked, a student strikes back, a teacher defends, but a master isn’t even there.

Despite my black belts, my lifetime of training, and even founding a dojo, I was still thinking like a student. I was worried that if I were challenged by the audience I might strike back and disenfranchise them (and my host) the way I had my former client, and his employees. This was a frustrating possibility, because in the interim between these two seminal events in my life and career, I had done a lot of work on myself, reckoning with how I show up (for myself and others) on a profound set of levels. I was disappointed to have to decline the invitation due to my own lack of personal growth. And this is where the self-work (rewiring) paid off: I realized that the issue wasn’t how I might respond if someone “took a shot at me” or my ideas. It wasn’t that I couldn’t defend myself intellectually and verbally. It was that I saw myself as a target. Without even realizing it (until I did) I was seeing myself as a target.

In that moment, I was able to take a pause and consider my options and my Self, and choose how to react, as opposed to reacting impulsively. I had finally rewired myself to the point where I had gained some mastery of my emotions. That’s a level of self-awareness and self-leadership where one is in sync with his or her higher Self while reaching the desired outcomes.

That’s what’s possible from coaching, therapy, mentorship and the like, and though none of those routes are easy, they’re easier than the hard ways that tend to come our way when we don’t heed or can’t see the signs along our path.

~John Starling

John Starling is a professional life and business coach, a leadership group facilitator with Learner Leader Cohorts, and the founder and CEO of Pietential, LLC.

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