“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and who has the courage to develop that potential” Brene Brown Dare to Lead
As I scrolled through Instagram not shortly after I opened my eyes this morning I saw a post from a woman who I respect a lot. She is younger than I am, married, smart and strong in her faith. All things to be admired and respected. She was posting about how incredible it was to speak at an event this past weekend. You would think that my first reaction would be:
“That is so awesome, I am so happy for her, she is doing exactly what I know that she has been dreaming of doing, go her”
But I am going to be honest and say that that was not my first reaction. Maybe it was because it was literally first thing in the am and I was still asleep. My kindness and support instincts were not fully awake. Or maybe it was because it was so early that I was unable to pretend that I felt anything way but the way I did, My first reaction sounded more like this:
“Why can’t I have that? I am older, have lived more. I know things, I may not be young but I look good. When will I get opportunities like this? How come I don’t have what she does? I deserve it after all I have been through. I wanted to be there and if I wasen’t going through such a hard thing I would be there, I would do that WHY NOT ME LORD???
As I made my coffee and stewed and pouted I know that this was not my best moment. I felt guilty that I felt the way I did. I sat down with my journal and wrote:
Why am I this way God? Why cant I get it together and be successful. I have intelligence, I have talent, people LIKE me, why to I feel stuck?????
Then I read a quote that I had jotted down in my journal the day before. “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and who has the courage to develop that potential”
Immediately I knew the answer was there. I was not where I wanted to be because of my lack of responsibility for seeing the potential that God has given me and more importantly for not having any courage to develop that potential, I was failing to lead my life.
I am a strong leader. Every personality test that I have ever taken had told me so. I have lead countless teams, multi million dollar businesses and keep my 9 year old daughter alive and healthy. I have never been afraid to have hard conversations. People tell me that I am brave. So what gives? Why cant I have the courage to develop the potential that God has given me? Why cant I feel the fear and do it anyway? What is it that is holding me back? Because I know this stuck feeling is me. Its not my circumstances, it is me. My brain, my wall.
So how do I find the courage to develop my potential? To be the person that God has created me to be? I am taking it one step at a time and approaching it as I did any of my high paying high power jobs. When I would be faced with a difficult thing, something I had never done before I would do the following:
1- Identify the behavior that I was addressing: This made it about the behavior and not the person. Say I needed to talk to someone about their failure to perform during a project. I would gather the facts. I would list specific expectations that were not meet I would collect data. I would not go into the meeting and tell the person they were a failure or not smart. I would stick to the facts.
2- I would discuss the conversation ahead of time with a trusted mentor or peer: I would outline the situation to a peer that I respected, a friend who has had to have a conversation like this before and I would check my thinking , get perspective and validate the facts and how I was thinking about those facts.
3- I would enter the conversation with an open mind and empathy: Yes the conversation had to have an agenda. There were points that had to be made and behaviors that needed to be addressed but I also needed to be ready for anything, flexible, able to listen and react appropriately to whatever or however the conversation went.
4- The goal was growth not winning: Whenever I had a hard conversation my goal was never to win. It was to be heard and understood and to hear and understand the other person. I didn’t want to prove I was right and they were wrong or punish them for not doing what was asked or Make them feel bad because they failed. It was for them to learn from the experience and to ultimately do better next time.
As I wrote all of these out I realized what a crappy leader I have been for myself.
I always attacked myself whenever I felt I fell short. I never dealt in facts. I was always stupid and a failure and lazy and a coward. I needed to get rid of the emotion and deal with the data. What was really going on and not my emotions around what was going on.
I had isolated myself. Acted and reacted to things in my life in a bubble. I had no objective perspective and so my emotions just ran wild. I had an idea I ran with it even if that idea was obviously nonsense then i blamed myself when it failed. I needed a FRIEND or community I could trust that would push back on me in love and remind me to get over myself and deal in facts. I was absolutely not flexibility with myself. I was able to do only what I was able to do. If something was new it was going to fail. I am a 47 year old soon to be divorced single mom with no job and no money. I used that to set limits on my expectations of myself and what others should expect from me.I reacted defensively to situations that I was uncomfortable in and ran from everything. There was no listening, no rationalizing. And finally I was all about winning. If I could not win why bother. If I was not good at something why try. It was safer to sit here and wait for the world to finally come to their senses, see my suffering and realize how amazing I was, then I would have the life I always wanted and dreamed of. Anything less was just a waste of time, I deserved success after all didn’t I?
What I realized the most from this exercise was that I am in charge of my thoughts. I am in charge of what I do or don’t do with them. AND SO ARE YOU.
The world owes me NOTHING. Yes I can pray to God for the things I want but God is not like lotto or Vegas. I have to play a part in my success or failure. He has given me everything that I need (my potential) to make it happen. But like all good leaders I need to step out in courage to develop that potential in myself. To take responsibility everyday to realize that God given potential.
And the absolute hardest but most necessary part in my opinion: Put myself out there and make friends and love people again no matter how scared I am to lose them. BE REAL, VULNERABLE AND NOT PERFECT. To lead my life in a way most like Jesus filled with love and grace, acceptance, courage and forgiveness. To remember all that I have and not what I lack. To realize that I deserve nothing but I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams right now as I am.
So now I ask you, are you leading your life? Are you living to your potential? Are you being real putting yourself out there and looking for opportunities to love others? Tell me about it!! I want to hear from you! If you are not what is holding you back? I am here for you and want to know. Lets figure it out together. One day at a time.