There are many words people could use to describe me. Some of them are even lovely words.
Serene is not one.
Serene is defined as marked by or suggestive of utter calm and unruffled repose or quietude. HA! Or clear and free of storms or unpleasant change. HA HA!
I would like to be serene. One of the Christian bloggers I admire most appears incredibly serene.
This is my version of serenity:
In addition to utterly failing at the serenity gig, I’m also not so much of a people pleaser anymore.
I used to be. I honestly have no idea what happened. But I was sitting in an all female board meeting recently and one woman talked about some of the challenges our organization had because women often had a tendency to want to please others. I interjected, “I do NOT have that tendency. I wish I had that tendency still. But alas, that tendency is GONE with the wind…” Knowing laughter ensued because I have made waves on occasion with my vocalized opinions that might be contrary to the group consensus.
How did this happen? How did I transform into frenzy and opinions and noise and nuttiness. I was a shy pleaser of a child. I am confident folks used the word serene when describing my character. What on earth?
Here’s the thing about leading though – there is no one size fits all leadership mold. Lucky for me. I read a number of books that all featured different “key traits” for a leader to possess. I even read some that said there aren’t any key traits, and that every leader is different, and offered a few techniques to employ for each unique personality.
This is what I’ve decided about leadership and my Serenity Now! style. It is FAR from perfect. But it is me. And the me of yesteryear is gone, and I think that I’m the better for it. I used to be all pleaser, frequently to my detriment. I swallowed instead of voicing a contrary opinion. I ran from confrontation. I sat shyly, quietly, ruffling nary a feather.
I am realizing that it is good to have a voice in the room. It is good to speak up with a fresh or different perspective. It is good to be honest with people even if that may mean confrontation or a few ruffled feathers. And it’s okay if that comes with a little unbridled enthusiasm and reactiveness.
But this is what it doesn’t mean: hurt feelings, brash remarks, unthinking knee-jerk reactions, crowding out other voices, and failing to process.
See all of those things can be the dark side of moving quickly, reacting, speaking up, and offering a new perspective. My responses can come instantaneously, without thoughtful consideration, and without appreciation for all the work the other person has put into the idea or opinion or proposal.
So this is what I’m working on. Active listening. I could write for days about a wise executive I interviewed that offered insight into active listening. I’m sure I will. But it means that I truly hear what the other person is saying, or writing, instead of developing a response in my head as they talk. That means asking questions about the idea and being thoughtful about and to the person delivering the message. This kind of listening is as much about leadership, if not more, than the speaking part of it.
I’ll take the good with the bad. I’ll laugh at the good and I’ll work on improving the bad. And I’ll lead like I lead because an imitation way wouldn’t work either.