Tag Archives: potential

19. Dec.

New Perspectives for Recognizing Potentials

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How to rediscover yourself and others through art

The language of art and images is powerful. Usually we talk about images in terms of a message to be communicated by the image, whether to ourselves or others. It’s less common for us to think of entering into a self-reflective dialogue through an image or a work of art. But there are paintings that literally invite us to step inside and wander around in them, be it because they exude harmony and beauty or because their spatial depth draws us into a seemingly endless field. This quality of certain artworks can lead us towards previously unrealized potentials through a process of self-reflection. If we look at a painting playfully and intuitively with the attitude of the beginner’s mind, we can begin to see beyond our conscious thoughts. A story about ourselves that we didn’t know before emerges, showing us different paths of action for the big and small decisions of professional life. The harbor and landscape paintings by Claude Lorrain used in the innovative Symbolon® method are especially beautiful examples of images that invite us to immerse ourselves in their worlds. A harmless aesthetic question leads us to play with our associations and ideas in the language of the painting, giving us new metaphors to translate into our work situations.

In Claude Lorrain’s Harbor: Where do you want to be in this painting?Four questions initiate the process of reflection:

  1. Where in this painting do you want to be? Your preferred place is your own individual choice. There is no right or wrong, it’s only about the place where you feel most comfortable. What do you like there? What positive feelings are awakened there? How does your choice relate to your current work situation?
  2. What do you see from this position? Depending on where you stand, you have a better or worse view of other sections of the painting. What is the view from your chosen place? What visual axis are you presented with? What can you see and observe? What path of action arises from this view?
  3. What don’t you see from this position? No matter where we stand, there is always something blocked from our sight. Your position shows you precisely what you can’t see and where your potential for development lies. What is your blind spot? What information is unavailable to you, and what are the consequences in the language of the painting? How can you tap into the potential of this information? Who or what in the painting might need to move, and how or where would they need to go?
  4. How do others in the painting see you in this position? Finally, take a look at your position from the perspectives of other areas in the painting. How visible are you for others? How close or how far away are you from each other? How does your position appear from the perspectives of others? How do you communicate from where your stand?

360° Feedback

In this way, you get a 360° artistic feedback for the position of your choice, with its strengths, weaknesses and potentials including self-perception as well as perception by others. The more open you are to the process, the greater the chance that you’ll learn something new about yourself and your situation. When you translate the language of the painting into your work situation, new ideas for drawing on previously unseen potentials will develop almost by themselves. The scope of action for achieving your goals will broaden.

Where your team stands

The power of this process of reflection also unfolds when members of a team choose their places independently of each other at first, according to the questions above. In the second step the team can reflect upon its choices as a whole. A new team constellation appears that was not visible before. A team can zoom out from its members’ individual positions to recognize how it is distributed within the painting and what key themes show up. Thus, the questions above can also be used in the context of team building in order to learn where untapped potentials for teamwork might be hidden. Whether on your own or as a team, reflecting on the painting allows you to embark on a deeply individual journey that originates in your specific situation. Creative metaphors come up almost automatically and have a way of lingering in your mind with long-term effects. In this way, art can become an integrated aspect of your work life.

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Photo credits: Claude Lorrain, Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula, (1824), National Gallery, London

9. Apr.

How Schiele’s artworks show psychological compensations

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Lead authentically and differentiated with high level of awareness

In the context of leadership and career, mental illnesses such as depression, ego weakness, personality disorder, burnout syndrome and narcissism are often used as a matter of fact. This led to the concept of resilience meteorically gaining prominence. What is quickly and superficially thematized and put into boxes, can in no way do justice to those affected. The inner life and the resulting external effect are the result of a long, incomparable life journey. The sum of all experiences makes the uniqueness of people. With all our unprocessed weaknesses, strengths and applied potential.

To expose the inner potentials, a profound personality development is required. This includes reflecting on one’s own psyche. As self-evident as body care and hygiene are embodied in our culture, the treatment of mental stability requires differentiated attention with a focus on self-development. Anyone who neglects or even negates the “psycho-hygiene” with its contained fears, patterns and weaknesses risks becoming mentally and physically unstable and unwell over time.

100 years ago, the Austrian artist Egon Schiele presented psychological content with the most intense expressiveness. The following digression with two of his self-portraits shows profound topics and development potentials with the help of symbolic translation and associative contemplation. Not Schiele’s thoughts are interpreted, but rather attention to the symbolism and his own feelings are paid, which triggers the depicted. If the viewer leans on personal associations, he succeeds in bringing inner patterns and processes to light.

This self-portrait created in 1910 symbolizes the expression of the intellectually controlling abilities as well as the power of action and locomotion through the concise shaping and intensive coloring of the head, the hand and the leg indicated on the lower edge of the picture. The angular lines, the strong expression of the face and the red eyes represent insecurity as well as dominance. Schiele renounced entirely on the painting of the robe. This associates a reduced body or a floating shell which, in contrast to head and limbs, has an incredible effect.

This emptiness symbolizes people whose inner personal areas of feelings, needs and instincts remain empty and unfulfilled. They have lost contact with each other by identifying with performance and successes in the outside world. Usually these people are dependent on the feedback of others and therefore function reactive and undifferentiated.

In the outward-looking business
world of superlatives of more, faster and bigger, the inside look is pushed completely to the side. The inner voice is silent and meaningful questions remain unanswered. The original source of life and energy is drying up. Psychology offers ways inwards and gives answers to psychodynamic processes that work in people and are constantly triggered from the outside. Because everything that moves a person, be it in a pleasant or unpleasant way, has to do with oneself. With a low level of awareness, one’s own problem is projected onto others and the potential for conflict is increased, which in turn makes it difficult to find constructive solutions. For example, critical feedback might be met with defense. With a high level of awareness, it is possible to reflect the subjective insult and to understand that, for example, the lack of self-esteem led to the pain and the defense. The self-responsible analysis of the triggered inner pattern and the potential for development contained therein is dealt with. For example, this can lead to a healthy self-awareness. Accordingly, the event is dealt with objectively by all participants and an adequate further development and design of the work situation is possible.

In this self-portrait, which was painted three years later, Schiele emphasizes the use of gesture and color in contrasting ways, as in the previous work. The orange robe stands for a strong, personal relationship to the emotional, physical and instinctive life force. The sensual expression with the closed eyes represents the attention directed inwards. Through the forehead wrinkles the inside look does not appear passive at all but rather a search and struggle for deeper essential insights.

If a person directs the self-critical discussion too much inward with too little distance to the subjective feeling, this can have an inhibiting effect on the spontaneous development of potential. Constant self-doubt and questioning absorb the power that would be necessary for a lively exterior design.

The balanced psychological confrontation with oneself is an invaluable benefit for executives and decision makers. Because everyone has their sunny sides and shadow themes, which are destructive, preventing and exhausting in displacement. Even if a very difficult person gets along relatively well with themselves, they usually pose an unbearable burden on the environment, especially in their role as superiors. If they are also taken over by a selfish omnipotence, they can be unaware of the responsibility they have and the burden they put onto others. When too many stress factors come together in the individual, the psyche compensates with counter-reactions or breaks down.

The development of inner processes should be accompanied by coaches and counselors with high psychological competence. Their own reflection competence and personality development play a decisive role here. For only those who have explored and integrated their own depths can surely accompany others in their deep development of personality and potential. The way inwards is not only worthwhile for those affected. The companies also benefit. Executives and decision makers get through the serious, individual confrontation with strength and support. They are clearer, more decisive and more authentic in their attitude and all their actions. An immense amount of valuable potential lies on the inner levels, waiting to be activated and used on the outside.

Self-portrait, 1910, Egon Schiele, privat collection;
Self-portrait in orange jacket, 1913, Egon Schiele, Albertina, Vienna

This is a translation of the German blog article Wie Schieles Werke psychologische Kompensationen aufzeigen posted on January 27th 2015 by Christine Kranz

Christine Kranz in Web
christine.kranz@symbolon.com ∙ www.symbolon.com
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