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How To Integrate Meaning In Your Ambition-Driven World

Written by: Sally Higoe, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


All of us have issues to deal with. We have moments, days and for some, even weeks, where we may feel anxious or angry for various reasons. We reach times in our lives where the choices feel minimal, and the uncertainties feel insurmountable.

Love what you do and do what you Love, written on sign board

At these times, the ability to be focused and have a positive mindset is essential for us to keep a healthy mental attitude... but how easy is it for you to extend this into all areas of life, including your relationships with others?

How successful are you, at navigating these challenging times?

Typically, what gives weight to these moments, are the negative experiences that are associated with them... Bad thinking typically leads to bad moments.

And it is through these moments that most of us will make ‘the call’ and determine the level and quality of our lives.

But what if you were able to improve ALL of the relationships in your life ‒ including the one you have with yourself?

Would you like more quality experiences? Better connections with others, kinder conversations with self?

We all have the strength to bounce back and pay more attention to situations and emotions if we want to. Knowing where to place the focus, is often the missing piece.

This is what emotional fitness is about.

We’ll go deeper below and share insights and tips to help you with your daily leading and personal living, as you read along.

What is Emotional Fitness?

To kick things off, let's discuss what emotional fitness is.

It’s amplifying the quality of your experiences through deepening connections and enjoying great relationships.

Through this, you’re able to significantly improve how you handle uncertainty and challenges with more grace and ease.

Why? Because your hot buttons aren’t pressed so easily, your confidence in yourself is stronger and you simply don’t feel pressures as heavy as before.

You’re more positively responsive and capable, and less egocentric, so you’re able to make the shift to where your mind focuses on constructive and creative tasks while drifting away from negative thoughts and ideas.

Many of us have challenges or issues that haunt us, and no one can blame you for having those thoughts. But think about it, is it productive to dwell for hours thinking about unpleasant experiences? Definitely not. This is why it’s important to choose where you focus instead.

The choice comes from a belief that success is defined by the value we bring to all that we cross paths with. This is the thinking behind an emotionally fit person.

It could be easier said than done but being emotionally fit is the secret sauce to achieving the best version of yourself. All whilst empowering your surrounding relationships as you gracefully move into the meaning-driven space from the ambition-driven world.

Let's Define Identity And Why It's Important

Your Identity is your self-concept, who it is that you believe that you are; what you’re capable of and what you’re worthy of; also what you’re deserving of.

All of our experiences are felt due to the view we have of ourselves, that is, our self-concept, and in a nutshell, it’s the way we see ourselves.

There are 4 stages of identity that we all, universally go through. That means that each of us travels through these four stages of life. We do it unconsciously, it's not a choice that we make to move on to the next, but the move is something that needs to happen to become emotionally fit. And we want to align in a way where we can integrate all first 3 stages into the third, in a resourceful way that empowers our mind, body and soul. The fourth stage exists only in the subconscious state and can be likened to more of a ‘spirit’ level. We won’t be touching on that any further today... just know that if you were to reach that stage of Identity, the ultimate consciousness, you are well advanced and probably won’t be reading this J.

So what makes knowing this about our identity, so important?

At each of the stages we travel, our view of ourselves will change. No wonder people get lost in their thinking and confused about their behavioural changes at these times!

The more we know about which identity stage we’re at in life, the greater strength of character we exhibit because it increases the understanding we have of why we act, say, and think the things we are currently doing.

At these times, this helps establish your self-confidence and means you're better able to objectively view both your strengths and areas of self-improvement. Essential leadership states.

In contrast, when we think one thing of ourselves and act another way (i.e. we’re unclear about which stage we’re living in or moving to), we typically feel discomfort.

It doesn’t feel good, we’re confused and out of alignment. Like when someone says, “I just don’t feel myself lately”. These moments show us we need to increase the connection between who we are and where we’re at – we need to work more on our emotional fitness, and understanding of our stage of identity, in order to increase the level of certainty.

When you grasp this, it’s a real superpower. Our identity is what makes each of us unique in our own beautiful way.

1. The Athlete In You

Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung is a master in his field and is known for his decoding of codes in terms of human behaviour. He brings us insight into our stages of identity and has also discovered patterns you may know such as 'thinker versus feeler', 'introvert' versus 'extrovert', and 'detailed' versus 'big picture’. What’s most poignant about Jung though is his belief that the purpose of every person's existence is to tap into their soul – discover what it is that they are truly about.

The first stage we go through as developing humans is the 'Athlete' stage and it’s an important one. Don't take the name literally, this doesn't have anything to do with being a professional basketballer or football player. The Athlete Stage is just a label, but it is, how some athletes would refer to themselves, defined purely by physicality.

It’s the label though, that fuels the archetypes belief inside that says, “we are our body”, and this stage is 100% influenced by external forces – body, clothes, car, house, the way we walk, look, talk, and sound. Making sense?

Remember that we don’t consciously go from one phase to another but knowing what each stage is like and the lessons we can learn from them is guaranteed to help us move through uncertainties and reduce feelings of stress and anxiousness.

Each of the stages is driven by an over-arching question that lies in the mind. The core driving question for the Athlete is: What do you think of me? And the answer to this question is of utmost importance and is one that the Athlete is ultra-sensitive about.

2. The Warrior Archetype

The next stage we go through in life is The Warrior Archetype or The Hunter. Again, these terms don't have to be taken seriously as we are using Jung’s terms that best describe each stage.

This is where we start growing and moving away from life's earlier stage of Athlete. And here, we define ourselves by the results we deliver. Like a constant little internal mantra – first or last? quickest or slowest? Winning or losing? This is what's important here.

Does the energy of the warrior now drive your experiences?

Are you driven by the need to win? Excited by the prospect of a real challenge... and feel the tingling in your belly at the possibility?

Because if that’s you, you’re likely in this stage of life... and more often than not, like many others here, your results are seen through your career (for some women, the stage of Warrior is expressed through full-time motherhood).

The problem with this is that when the career goes, or the job is lost, or all the kids move out of home... the feeling that one is often left with is that they have lost their identity. Left with the constant nagging question of “Who am I?” can be all too consuming and even lead to depression. (HOT TIP; Don’t let that be you – find a hobby, a sport, something on the side that you can become a part of, and spread your interests and your drive to as many areas as you can, so your sole focus is not in one field J).

There is a particular beauty in this psychological stage... sheer motivation, drive and courage. The Warrior is wonderful at stimulating their own senses to move forward, achieve and win... when used resourcefully, it’s a very suitable stage to be an amazing leader.

These self-focusing traits within the Warrior Archetype will define your character at that time. Just like the Athlete stage, it is driven by external forces, so the esteem of this person relies very much on others. Score well? High self-esteem. Losing? Taking it personally. I trust you can see the challenges here. For people who have never heard of these stages, they can easily be lost in a downward spiral of confusion and stuck dwelling in the uncertainty that it brings. The core driving question of the Warrior, no surprise, is “What can I get?”

3. Statesperson

The most important shift that we make in terms of our consciousness is the movement into 'Statesperson'. However, you must bring the first two Identity stages with you. In fact, you can’t stay in this stage, you cannot be in the stage of Statesperson without bringing the previous two along with you!

Statesperson is defined by our personal legacy and here, we shift the driving force from an external to an internal focus, which ultimately shifts our awareness. What are you leaving behind?

Will people remember you as the manager who brought meaning to the organisation's growth? Are you the person whom others depended on to lead their success?

To simplify, what impact have you made on the lives of the people around you?

And this brings rise to the question: 'How do you want people to remember you?'

In Statesperson, your interests will change, and you’ll notice differences in what’s now important to you. You’ll also have a priority shift around where you believe you belong, and these changes will be felt with the heart – not noticed by the head. Ultimately, your values are shifting and this fuels the core driving question of “What can I give?”

Key Takeaways

As mentioned earlier, going through each stage is not expressed by a conscious jump from one to another. Let it happen organically and take lessons along the way.

There are two key takeaways that you simply must take from this read

  1. The 3 different stages of psychological behaviour

  2. The 3 stages MUST be integrated into the third

The Athlete stage is all about who we are externally. You can say “I must look amazing and have the best of everything” and this is ok and perfectly normal for when you’re here. Keeping this in mind helps you tackle any problems that may come your way both in your personal life or professional career. If you feel a shift towards hunter–prioritising results over physicality and material things, you’re moving away from Athlete. As you grow and integrate this stage into the next two, it’s about looking after your body – the temple that keeps us healthy and provides sustenance for growth.

For the Warrior stage, we are defined by the results we generate. In this regard, we can say that we have full control of what we want to achieve... because we strive to make it happen. Most of the society of the Western World is stuck here – almost purely focused on self.

When the winning, the results, the attention and the significance of winning don’t excite you or matter as much anymore, you can consider this a sign that you’re beginning to move into the next stage. You are beginning to experience the slow shift from external to internal and that is what it will look like.

Transitioning out of the ambition-driven world and into the meaning-driven world is the point at which you’ll enter the Statesperson stage.

Would you want to be remembered as the manager who pushes or lashes out at employees when the team faces challenges? Or are you the type who turns setbacks into opportunities to grow, achieve great things and inspire in your wake?

No one else but you have the answer to this. And it will happen when you’re ready. But when it truly becomes about others, you know you’ve reached Statesperson.

There is a catch here though; a potential time of back and forth between stages. You may find yourself moving back into a job you didn’t like or stuck in the questioning of why you’re in the role you’re currently in until you work it out. The ability to bring in a healthy, energised body with the resourceful desire to win and take on challenges, will be your sign of successful integration of all three stages.

You’re now embracing and living the question of “what can I give” but it’s beautifully layered with a natural care of your physical health and nutrition and the courage to face challenges head-on, focusing where needed, to achieve results.

That’s a beautiful place to be.

But remember, no rush; be aware of where you’re at, lean into each moment and enjoy the growth and succession that’s needed to move comfortably and happily into the meaning-driven world.

If you’re keen to unpack this further and see exactly where you fit and how you can personally move the needle, email me, mention this article in the topic line and let’s chat, I LOVE talking about Emotional Fitness and I’d love to chat with you.

Follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and visit my website for more info!


Sally Higoe, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sally is uniquely world-experienced in building resilience, emotional fitness, and quality sustainable practices in leadership. Her experience across multiple countries leading high-performing teams in high-pressure outlying remote environments has amplified her ability to know what it takes to connect a conscious leader to their team, with outstanding results.

Having spent decades on diverse projects in every climate imaginable, Sally discovered the critical aspects of authentic leadership and team alignment. She has now blended research-based, proven methodology with her pragmatic approach and ability to 'be herself' to create the transformative Align & Shine program. There, she guides formerly flustered, confused, and internally insecure leaders, to tap into their true classic selves, without the need to conform to outside pressures, helping them become bold, present, courageous, and energized leaders who genuinely connect with their team AND their business.

Sally is co-author of Resilience in Leadership, Pt 1 of the book series, leader of both community and international hardship projects, and accredited in scientifically proven Human Behavioural Profiling and Meta Dynamics ' thinking-based methodology, adding to her Practitioner of Coaching credentials.

Most importantly though, Sally, Founder of Team Resilience Method, is now on a mission to show striving leaders how to shine, gain clarity and create a ripple of positive change, from the inside out.



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