If your Personal Champions aren't doing this, they aren't doing you justice



Let’s be frank. At times our journey as intrapreneurs can feel akin to shoveling sand against the tide. 


It’s tough.


And so our personal champions become integral to our survival. 


They are people who not only want to see us succeed, they believe we can and will succeed – even when our own self-belief wavers. 


They have the ability to prop us up when we are down. They reassure us that we haven’t totally lost the plot. They say to us things like “I’ve been there too, did I tell you about the time when…” or “Don’t worry, it comes with the territory. Let me tell you a story from my day…”.


They are our lifesavers when the tide comes in too quickly. 


But while having a lifesaver can feel good, what we actually need them to do is help us learn to swim. 


How can they do this?


It may sound counter-intuitive, but essentially we want them to challenge us in a way that makes us feel like a giant wave has come out of nowhere and swept us out to sea. 


This feeling only really emerges when someone challenges our perception of a situation and we realize they are spot on. That while maybe we haven’t lost the plot, we may not actually have a full grasp of what the plot is…


In an instant we can start to see the flaws in our way of thinking and how this has led us to block our creative thinking, stirred up all sorts of unhelpful emotions, and possibly even paralyzed us from taking any constructive action. 


We begin to see how our perceptions have been shaped by our beliefs. And when we are oblivious to what some of our beliefs are, when they come into play, and how detrimental some of them can be, we realize that we are not setting ourselves up for success.


Therefore, while it may initially feel like we are under water gasping for air, it is this sort of challenge that leads to profound personal growth. 


This is how we learn to swim.


So what can you do?


For starters, if your champion’s normal script is “yes, yes, yes, you are awesome!” or “I’m so sorry to hear that, sure you can cry on my shoulder” or they only challenge your strategic thinking and not your thought patterns, then you’ve got to give them permission to go beyond this. It is natural for people to want harmony in their relationships. Challenging someone risks breaking this harmony. Hence why they may hesitate to offer you this challenge without your prompting. 


If they are the right champions for you, they will want to. And they will do so in a non-judgmental and objective way.


As a coach, once I receive permission from my clients to challenge their way of thinking, what I’ll often do is work with them to reframe how they are receiving their experiences. For example, if a client of mine expresses they are on the verge of quitting out of frustration, I may ask them, “What are you learning about yourself right now?” or “What could you potentially learn about yourself if you stayed at your company?”.


This line of questioning could enable a client to realize they have a pattern of behaviour whereby when work starts to feel too overwhelming their immediate response is to start looking at job adverts online. They may then start to see that instead of quitting what they want to create for themselves are techniques that can help them to better manage their workload when they see their stress levels rising. 


If you have a problem or situation right now that you think could benefit from reframing, you could speak to your champion and give them permission to challenge you, you could get in touch with me and we could explore working together, or you could even try and tackle it on your own using this free digital reframing tool created by The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership. 


The trick is to stay open to challenging yourself in this way. If someone you trust and respect offers you this sort of challenge, know they have your best interest at heart, and see what you can learn from it. 


Don’t be afraid of the big waves that want to knock you down. Your shovel is growing in size, and soon you’ll have thrown enough sand at the sea to create a sand dune that changes the coastline! 



Editor's Note:


This is part of a new bi-weekly series on Intrapreneurship and Personal Resilience, authored by Heidi Kikoler.

Heidi Kikoler is a Resilience and Effectiveness Coach for Internal Change Agents. Having been a social intrapreneur herself at Sir Richard Branson’s corporate foundation, she is uniquely placed to understand the mindset and unique challenges faced by employees seeking greater meaning in their work, and those on a mission to change their businesses and organisations into forces for good from the inside out. She has spent over 6 years working with social intrapreneurs, innovators, corporate responsibility professionals, and third-sector employees. She applies proven personal development and coaching techniques to help change agents find solutions to the challenges they face in staying effective, resilient, and feeling fulfilled. Heidi regularly explores this often unspoken, but incredibly important area, in her blog We Are Good Rebels.

She is an advisor to the League of Intrapreneurs, and a member of The International Coach Federation and The Human Agency. Heidi has honed her niche skillset in, and deepened her passion for coaching, social intrapreneurship, and corporate social innovation through working closely with many leading thinkers, brands, and change agents, including: The University of Oxford, Virgin Unite, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic, The League of Intrapreneurs, Ashoka, Shell, BP, Imaginals, and Burton Snowboard’s Chill Foundation.

She has trained with Coaching Development in London, earned a MSc from Oxford in Environmental Change and Management, and a BBA from the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, Canada.


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