It has been a while since I wrote a blog for my own website! Of course, with the virus, everybody is now a professional blogger:) I’ve been reading a lot on LinkedIn recently, as most of you have, but I wanted to do something different than the usual ‘my business can help your business get through the pandemic’ thing. I wanted something from the heart about vulnerability. So many of us, whether in leadership positions or not, have been bowled a googly (or thrown a curve ball) recently. This will have affected your professional life, and probably your home life. This is just a little story from me to say it’s OK. Let it show. Take it easy on yourself. Hope you enjoy it.
You, a beacon
This is for you. You who until recently were in charge of your life, your career, your team. You who are not used to feeling like you do now. Unsure and vulnerable.
You may be the sort of person that always says ‘I’m great thanks’ when someone asks how you are. You may be saying it still. But you’re not great.
For the first time in a while you feel out of control and you are always in control. Others look to you for what to do next. Guidance, a vision, a direction. You know the right words to say. You are a beacon. But now there are no words. No right words anyway, just stuff that comes out. The beacon has blurred.
You don’t let it show to your family, friends, colleagues. You are your old self on Zoom. The English call it the ‘stiff upper lip’. You have to lead so you can’t be fragile, weak.
You normally despair at the traffic and finding a car park. Now everything is empty and it feels worse.
You are not mentally or physically ill, although you are mindful of that. You get up early, you have your habits. You are not lazy. You fulfil obligations. But you ache inside and are so incredibly unsure.
But this is not a gloomy story. It is about you after all. You don’t wallow or give up. You will beat this. The beacon will return. But how?
You have a virtual meeting with your team. They look and sound down. As usual, you ask what everyone has been up to. They give the same responses. You try to be upbeat but you sound ridiculous. You decide to try something different.
“I’m going to talk to you like I haven’t before. I hope you don’t mind. There have been times over the last weeks where I haven’t known what to say or what to do. But I have just tried to be my old self and be the leader I think you expect. The one with the answers. But it’s not working. Not for me, anyway. I want you to know that I feel very alone and unsure right now. In fact, a lot of the time I don’t even know what I am feeling. Normally I would have lots of ideas for solutions, but I’m sorry I just don’t. I need help. I need your help. Can someone else tell me how they are feeling?”
A weight has lifted. Many of your team go on to share similar thoughts. Voices might quiver and tears might be shed. The team is immediately a changed one. But not everyone will want to talk on such a level. The steeples of vulnerability are high.
You talk more openly with friends, family. You are exposed but free. You find out that the leader you were before was not as good as you thought. Everyone sees you in a different light. A better light. One might even say a beacon…