We all have our soft spots. Some people cry over stray puppies, some over spilled milk. Of course, there are the REAL things to actively grieve- hunger, safe drinking water, trafficking of women and children. So, let me be more clear. Today, here, I am talking about the less important, less real things that break my heart in a melodramatic and singly dimensional way. My friend, Alex, would call it, “the problems with my diamond-soled shoes.”
I’ve come to believe that most leaders come to their roles leading people and organizations with the kind of dreams, and aspirations and commitment to REAL sustained change that we all espouse and admire in the very few who retain it. I believe they come caring about people, alive to the humanity of others, and deeply respectful of themselves and the sanctity of their families and personal relationships.
Yet, in the absence of the will to be courageous, even when no one sees, or knows, or cares, these leaders get condensed, diluted and out of congruence with their original sense of identity. The systemic pressures around them hold them tightly there, until they have forgotten why- why they aspired to lead human beings in the first place. They lose dimension, they replace passion with conviction, and collude with the clarity that others shower on them, yes yes yes, you are, you have become, just what we expected you would.
Has that been you? It has been me. I know. I allowed myself to be seduced into the low boiling point of stagnancy, the frighteningly delightful sense of importance that was never about me, but looked as such, and I believed it too. From my toes, I mustered the courage to start again, to try again, to regain a sense of humility and joy at the reckless possibility of being “less of her,” then more of me. Start again, if you can. Try on the transparency, and the humor and the belonging that comes with knowing we all count the same, no matter what.
Now when I see leaders who have left behind themselves, who ditched the effervescence of good intention for the company line, it breaks my heart. I want to shake them, to yell right into their ears- “where did YOU go? Come back! This company needs YOU to inspire greatness and possibility! So what if people see how you really feel about the state of the organization? Your worry, your emotion, won’t scare them, the absence of it will.
There’s always time for a Do-Over.