I was chatting with a room of about twenty leaders today and found myself admitting, “I cried at work yesterday because I was feeling inadequate.” And I was surprised to see people nodding like, “Yep, been there…have felt that.”
The truth is my sense of inadequacy was self-imposed. I was putting internal pressures on myself. Ironically, the pressure that I was putting on myself to have it all together was actually what made me fall a part.
If we don’t pay attention to our thoughts and the ways we are speaking to ourselves, it’s very easy to find ourselves in that place of unhealthy self-depreciation, in a place where we feel a bit hopeless, as if nothing we’re doing is good enough; the transition to that place can be so quiet and subtle, we don’t even know how we got there.
Anyone who is doing the hard work of being better is going to struggle. And if we aren’t struggling in some way, we and our organizations probably aren’t working on anything that really matters.
The trick is finding that trusted person to talk to when we fall apart. The person who can remind us of our WHY and our potential. The person who sees greatness in us even when we can’t see it ourselves. We all need that. It’s hard to be a lone wolf as Abby Wambach would say. I’m grateful to my mentor who picked me and dusted me off. She doesn’t let me feel or play small.
But we also need to make a commitment to sharing our struggles with others. Sure, maybe not everyone needs to see our ugly cry. And perhaps people don’t need to know the ins and outs of our worst blunders, but they do need to see and feel that we struggle.
Because when we don’t share this, we make leadership something that is beyond others. Something that only perfect people do. Often we wonder why teachers in buildings don’t see themselves as leaders. We should ask ourselves, “Are we sending the message that only the people who have it all together all the time and have all the answers are leaders?” Or have we made leadership something scary because our culture is to sit back and judge the others who are trying and struggling?
Whatever the reason may be, we ALL have something important to offer our communities. Let’s find and celebrate the strengths that each individual brings to the table and leverage those strengths for the greater good.
“Great leaders are not the best at everything. They find people who are best at different things and get them all on the same team.” – Eileen Bistrisky
If we have to choose between being brave and being perfect, let’s be really, really brave. Because we have work to do to make this world a better place, and this work requires all of us.