We visited the Experience Music Project in Seattle and here's what I learned about shadows at work:
1. Your shadows are with you. Better to shine the light on them then have them jump out and take over at any time. This mantra also works for company cultures. So many times, I am aware that the person I am talking to at work is not in the moment, at the meeting, or helping to move the business forward. It even feels as though you are talking to their shadow when they are not present.
2. Put yourself in the picture. A teen said "Why aren't you ever in the pictures Mom?" to her Mom who was taking the video of Daddy and daughters doing the shadow dance. "Because I am always the one taking the pictures," Mom said. The children adored their parents. We had run into several times in the museum. The kids were black, and their parents were white. But our shadows are not about color, knowing better, or age. Understanding our shadows is about presence and doing our work. You've got to get into the picture to see all of ourselves.
3. One of our biggest life projects is our shadow. I gently removed the phone from her hands...without actually asking. She and her daughter both turned to me and said, "You will take the picture?" And the 4 of them danced and bobbled around. I hope Mom gets it. There are about 13 years of photos where she is not a present as she could have been.
revised from 12.15.2014