I worked at NBC News for 17 years. For much of that time I was high on the intoxicating cocktail of truth-telling to a massive audience, collaboration with some of the smartest people on the planet, self-importance and adrenaline.
It was exciting and important work that I allowed to envelope me - I didn't just work for NBC, I felt I was NBC 24/7, whether I was at home or on family vacation or flying off on assignment.
As the years wore on, I began to see that the way I lived that life cut me off from the people I loved, including myself. By the time I woke up, my 30-year relationship with Meg had become stale, perfunctory and endangered.
I've been thinking about the disconnect between the network life and my truest self a lot this week as I read -- with childish excitement, I'll admit -- article after article gleefully pillorying Brian Williams as a self-important fabulist.
In my experience of Brian, it's true: he was a diva who put Brian first before everything else.
And so was I.
So was all of the NBC I knew; we lived a culture of hype and drama that put us all just one step ahead of our comeuppance.
Adversity as Ally
Like me, Williams has the opportunity to redefine his career and NBC has the opportunity to redefine its evening newscast. How often do we have the chance to re-examine our deepest purpose and priorities, change them and strike out on a new and more enlivening course?
Once I bottomed out in my job at NBC (read about that messy, self-important splat here), I found I was free to jettison the habits and practices that had kept me locked in conflict and drama. My career actually flourished after I gave up on my desire to be right and make everyone else wrong.
When I began looking beyond the drama of the moment to find the building blocks for what I most wanted to create, I started with my work life. Eventually, I took the tools of conscious leadership that were helping me remake my career home to my relationship with Meg. This was a far more terrifying move because as the person closest to me, I had the most to lose if it turned out she didn't like the me behind the mask.
Using this cataclysmic implosion as a clean break with their current trajectory, Williams and his NBC colleagues have the opportunity to step into a new paradigm for telling the news that is more aligned with current reality (after all, network news has been in a decades-long decline) and more sustainable for their lives.
What about Integrity?
Integrity means much more than radical attachment to the truth. Integrity is a wholeness and alignment between what we say we believe and what we do, what we want to accomplish and how we accomplish it.
(For more on how to create integrity, check out this video.)
It was the lack of alignment between how I did my job and how I really wanted to live that nearly destroyed me. After years of banging my head against the wall (sometimes literally) and then coming home to a few stiff drinks and hours of compulsive exercise, I saw the cost of not bringing practice, belief and lifestyle into alignment. In my case, it took getting hit by a car and an unexpected layoff to bring the message home. The bigger the misalignment, the bigger the blow needed to restore integrity.
NBC and Williams now have the chance to bring their practices and public image back into alignment and integrity.
Put Self Approval First
The most puzzling aspect of Williams' downfall is why such a wildly successful man would feel the need to puff himself up with such adolescent chest-thumping.
Probably for the same reason I told more exciting stories of my exploits in the field or pretended my world was somehow shinier and more perfect than it was: I was (and still am) afraid the real me was not good enough. Many days when I looked inside myself, I wanted to paper over my ugly parts with a puffed-up chest, new suit or fancy bicycle.
I often told myself I was doing this for my family. And I was, but I couldn't step away even when the cost of not doing so was clear. Meg grew to hate my work at NBC. For her, it meant years of long periods alone with the kids, beepers that dinged all night from conflicts on the other side of the world and family plans jettisoned at the last minute by dramatic news events.
I know approval, safety and security (click here to see #11 of the 15 Commitments of my current world) - as well as deep connection with the people I most love - comes from inside me and not from glittery possessions or credulous friends. And yet, still, my biggest struggle is to live my life as if I'm the only one whose approval matters.
Imagine if all of us - including our celebrity news anchors - did the same.
Tim Peek is a certified executive coach who advises leaders and their teams on ways they can use disruption, consciousness, strategy and even love to create their desired future. Find him at www.peekdisruption.com and www.conscious.is/who-we-are
Meg Dennison is a certified conscious leadership coach who has reinvented herself many times. She coaches busy women midpoint in their life or career to consciously create their next step based on genius and life goals. Find her at www.megdennison.com
Together, Meg and Tim write about how they turned around what had become a stale and uninspiring 28-year marriage to return to the passion and purpose to their lives. Motivated executives come to Meg and Tim for help reinvigorating their careers, companies and intimate relationships. For a consultation, email Meg at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tim at email@example.com
Read previous blog posts at www.megdennison.com/blog. Click here to get their weekly blog delivered to your inbox.