A few weeks ago, I attended Birgitt Williams’ Nourishing a Culture of Leadership workshop, and it was a game changer for me.
We spent a day and a half exploring our personal leadership philosophy and how we nourish a culture of leadership in ourselves and those around us.
One of the questions posed in that workshop is one that I often ask clients myself. It’s a question I thought I knew the answer to, and felt really good about when it came up as a reflection exercise. I’ve got this one nailed! Or so I thought…
What was the question?
“Are you truly leading your life? If not, who or what is?”
Of course I’m leading my life. Aren’t I? I love my work and feel confident about how I show up in it. I love being a mom and feel pretty confident that I’m leading there too…at least most of the time. On and on I went through my checklist. Looking at the areas of my life and asking myself “am I truly leading this part of my life?”
Yes. Mostly. There were some little tweaks I could see that would be needed here and there (mental note: I’m going to plan all of my meals around what is good, nourishing, healthy, and tastes good to me. No more planning to avoid 7-year old complaining at the dinner table 🙂 ).
As I got closer to the end of my list, I could see that there was an area of my life I was avoiding. There it was. Hiding out in the dark, away in a corner of my awareness. Hoping that if it just kept still and small enough I wouldn’t notice. Did I dare to have the courage to go there?
And what I uncovered was something that in the grand scheme of my life is a teeny tiny thing. But because I was ignoring it and not leading that part of my life fully, it felt like a gigantic, hairy, teeth-filled, eye-bulging, monster. What did that look like?
- If I really lead this part of my life, people are going to be angry at me. I feel bad when people are angry with me, so I will hide out and not show up in my fullness.
- If I advocate for myself here, it’s going to cause a fight. I will give up on what I know I deserve so I can avoid the fight.
- If I hold firm in my boundaries here, it’s going to harm people I love. I’ll give in so I don’t hurt them.
Odds are, if you’re reading this, you resonate with one of those points I just shared. Or maybe 2. Or all 3.
Maybe it’s in just one area of your life, or a couple of areas.
Maybe you recognize that this is how you are not leading your entire life.
The good news is, it’s simple to start shifting all of this. To step fully into the leadership of your life.
It all starts with recognizing those beliefs that you think are true. In my case, it was things like “if I lead my life fully, people will be angry with me.”
And then asking yourself if they are true? “Really Rachel? What people? Who is going to be angry with you? Does it really matter?”
Well, no. The people who are going to be angry don’t really matter. I’m just using that as an excuse. And when I’m really honest with myself I know it. Why? Because hiding out is easier. Or is it?
As I worked through all of my other statements, I could begin to feel the power shift inside of me. I could begin to see how I could show up more fully as the leader of my life in this situation. And most importantly, I could see how I could do it and still be fully in alignment with who I am and how I want to show up in the world.
I could see that being the leader of my life didn’t have to be hard, strict, authoritarian, or detached. I could see that it was possible to be the leader of my life and still be honorable. To be fair and just. To be gentle and caring. To be generous without giving away too much of myself. To ask for what I deserve without demanding or being bitchy. To find a peaceful resolution without compromising my values or giving on my boundaries.
I could see a whole new level of how I can show up as the leader of my life. And I hope by sharing this story that you can too.