Are you whacked out or are you self-differentiated?

September 8, 2020

While I was processing the mask wars and writing about them here and here, I was drawn back to Edwin Friedman’s book, Failure of Nerve.  The big idea of the book is very provocative. The only way for a nation, company, family, church, etc. to survive in the midst of chronic anxiety (like today’s) is through the strong guidance of self-differentiated leaders, i.e. moms, dads, teachers, CEOs, directors, managers, coaches, government leaders, pastors, first responders, etc.

In other words, you.

What does it mean to be self-differentiated? Here’s Friedman’s take on it:

  • Differentiation is the capacity to take a stand in an intensely emotional system.
  • Differentiation is containing one’s reactivity and avoiding being polarized.
  • Differentiation is maintaining a non-anxious presence in the face of anxious others.
  • Differentiation is being able to cease automatically being one of the system’s emotional dominoes.
  • Differentiation is being clear about one’s own personal values and goals.
  • Differentiation is taking maximum responsibility for one’s own emotional well-being and destiny, rather than blaming others or the context.

Whoa. Read that list again…slowly. Now examine your behavior of late.

How’s your reactivity? How’s your finger pointing? Are you a rock in the onrushing waters or are you being carried away along with the rest of the freaked-out people?

Is your family, class, team, company, organization being led by a self-differentiated leader? You’ll know by the level of anxiety permeating your folks. And if you sheepishly raise your hand admitting to allowing yourself to get caught up in the madness, it’s not too late.

Get a hold of yourself. Settle down. Spend some time in soul searching. Take maximum responsibility for your own emotional well-being. Especially helpful is knowing why you are here – discover your calling!

I can help with that. Let’s talk! You can reach me here.

A whole bunch of purposeful self-differentiated leaders is just what our community needs!

Lead on!




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