In the pursuit of leadership mastery in life, career or business, one must embark on a journey of self-discovery that goes beyond surface-level achievements. The path to greatness requires a deep dive into the intricacies of one’s own psyche. Enter what I call the GRAILS – an acronym that distinguishes the elements lurking within, shaping the very fabric of our identity, also known as your SHADOW self. The acronym GRAILS, stands for Gremlin, Rigid rules, Assumptions, Interpretations, Limiting beliefs, and Stories. In this blog, I’ll dissect each element, exploring why identifying these inner constructs is pivotal for personal growth and leadership excellence in life, career, or business.
  1. Gremlin (Inner Critic): A Gremlin, often referred to as the inner critic, represents those nagging, self-deprecating voices that undermine confidence and self-worth. Recognizing and silencing the gremlin is essential for fostering a positive self-image and preventing self-sabotage. A leader who conquers their inner critic paves the way for empowered decision-making, positive self talk and unwavering self-assurance.
  2. Rigid Rules: Rigid rules are inflexible expectations and standards that individuals impose upon themselves or others. Identifying and challenging these rigid rules is crucial for unlocking creativity and adaptability. A leader unshackled by self-imposed constraints is better equipped to navigate change and inspire innovation, open up their social circles and do new things
  3. Assumptions: Assumptions are preconceived notions and beliefs about people, situations, or oneself, often based on incomplete information. They are biases and shortcuts. Unveiling assumptions enables leaders to make informed decisions, fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration. Leaders who question assumptions create an environment conducive to diverse perspectives and continuous learning.
  4. Interpretations: Interpretations are subjective meanings assigned to events or experiences based on personal perspectives and experiences. Understanding and challenging interpretations allows leaders to foster a culture of objectivity and empathy. Leaders who grasp the power of interpretation cultivate stronger interpersonal relationships and effective communication.
  5. Limiting Beliefs: Limiting beliefs are deeply ingrained convictions that constrain personal and professional growth. They stop you from achieving what you want in life. Identifying and reframing limiting beliefs is fundamental for unleashing untapped potential. Leaders who break free from limiting beliefs inspire themselves and others to transcend perceived boundaries and achieve unparalleled success.
  6. Stories: Stories are the narratives individuals construct about their past, present, and future, shaping their identity. They also construct them about others, about organisations and things. They are not factual, they are embellishments. Recognizing and reshaping personal narratives empowers leaders to craft a compelling and purpose-driven story. It also allows you to get deeply connected with reality. Leaders who take control of their narrative inspire authenticity, resilience, and a shared sense of purpose within their teams.


GRAILS serves as a powerful compass for leaders seeking to navigate the complexities of their inner landscape so that they can identify their shadow and thereby accept and integrate it. In doing so, they become authentic leaders deeply connected to their hearts and reality as is. By unraveling the intricacies of Gremlins, Rigid rules, Assumptions, Interpretations, Limiting beliefs, and Stories, leaders can foster a profound transformation within themselves and others. Identifying these elements is not merely an exercise in self-awareness; it is the key to unlocking untapped potential, fostering resilience, and charting a course toward leadership mastery in every facet of life, career, or business. As you embark on this introspective journey, remember: the mastery of self is the foundation upon which great leadership is built.

Reach out to me directly if you want some coaching on this for you, your life, career, business or family. I am a licensed coach with 20+ years experience in leadership, in New York, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, London & Sydney.