First a quote: “Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.” – Coco Chanel
I find the art of leadership fascinating, in large part, because it includes a long list of conflicting demands, behaviors, actions, themes, and dichotomies. When it comes to effective leadership, there are many opposing forces leaders must both balance and navigate. Just to name a few, leaders must:
- Know when to act with urgency and when to sit quietly and think.
- Be a source of optimism and hope while recognizing (and not minimizing) the despair, dangers, and negative realities of the world in which we live.
- Sometimes lead from the front lines, and at other times, bring up the rear.
- Know when to speak boldly with authority and when to listen quietly with heart.
- Reflect on, and learn from, the past while preparing strategically and proactively for the future. They must balance both the reactive and proactive requirements of their role.
- Project confidence without arrogance, operate from a place of confident humbleness.
- Balance transparency and vulnerability with discernment and discretion.
I have been grappling recently with the correct balance on many of these dichotomies including those involving transparency, and vulnerability.
I sometimes wonder what, and how much, to share with you, my readers. My intentions are to make a positive difference in the lives of others, to expand our collective capacity for success. I desire to be a good role model and share from my life experiences. I desire to be a source of hope, positivity, and contribute to a better future for all of us. And, like almost everyone I know, I have my own challenges, problems, doubts and fears.
As many of you know, I have not posted a MMM for the last two weeks. There isn’t any one reason which completely explains missing those posts.
Some of it was poor planning on my part. Some of it has to do with being exceptionally (and thankfully) busy. Some of it from getting by on too little sleep, and the regular day-to-day pressures of life. Some of it had to do with difficult travel schedules involving long delays, canceled flights, and missed connections. Some of it had to do with the layers of stress-related Covid-19, politics, the election, rampant incivility, social unrest, and negative news stories piling up all around us.
A lot more of it had to do with putting my wife’s mom on hospice, an elderly aunt’s colon cancer surgery, my father’s declining health and two family members testing positively for C-19. Simply put, Becky and I have been coping with what feels like a lot to keep in proper perspective.
So many of our friends and family members are reporting similar experiences, stresses, and concerns. I also hear similar concerns from by business colleagues and coaching clients.
Becky and I know we’re not alone in all of this. And, we also know, compared to so many others who are facing so much worse, we are quite fortunate and have so much to be thankful for. I also know when I have chosen to share our struggles with others, they have shared their concerns and challenges as well. The following seems to be true:
From my perspective, here are a few lessons learned, or perhaps even relearned, in all of this:
- Authenticity begets authenticity. When we’re “real” with others, they will likely be more “real” with us. We all tend to wear masks which prevent others from seeing, or knowing, who we are as people. While those masks may help hide our insecurities and fears, they also prevent us from having deep meaningful relationships with others.
- Be authentic without blaming or complaining. Very few people like to hear other people drone on and on about their aches, pains, and problems. Be short, be brief and see if a dialogue develops; if not, you may have chosen the wrong person, or perhaps, you may have chosen the right person but the wrong time.
- Authenticity and vulnerability build trust. Often, when we choose to share “how we’re doing on the inside not just the outside,” something magical happens between people. When we trust others with our vulnerabilities, they are more willing to share their vulnerabilities as well. When that happens, trust grows rapidly and more deeply as long as neither party abuses those vulnerabilities nor violates that trust.
Thanks to all who reached out with inquiries and concerns last week. Becky and I are in a good place. We are fortunate to have so many good friends and families, all filled with love and compassion. Our faith is strong. We know this is a chapter of life everyone must go through. (either has, or will, at some point) Becky’s mom is comfortable for the most part. Both her and my dad are ready to be in heaven when God calls them home.
My continued request is that we each take responsibility for our words and actions in our own little corners of the world. Let’s all strive be better people, our “best selves” as I like to say. We can dream bigger; we can do better. Let’s not go back to normal, but forward to better!
How will you love, live, or lead better this coming week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” – Mother Teresa
- “Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
- “Be your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be. Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else. Give yourself permission to be your authentic self.” – Dr. Phil
- “The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position.” – Leo Buscaglia
- “Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland
- “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
- “Yes, in all my research, the greatest leaders looked inward and were able to tell a good story with authenticity and passion.” – Deepak Chopra