Comparison is a mug’s game and yet most of us at some point will look around and wish we were someone else. The question then arises: if you are being someone else who is being you? The message of this blog is be yourself.
When you compare yourself with others you are endowing that other person with a fantasy of what you think their life is like. Many leaders come across as charismatic, confident, knowledgeable people who seem to have little wrong with their lives. We can find ourselves thinking: ‘If I could be like that then all would be well.’ The truth is most leaders are leading with a limp.
“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.” Søren Kierkegaard
Trying to be someone else is linked to the reality of what you think about yourself. Newsflash – what you think about yourself is often inaccurate. Projecting a persona of everything is well when it isn’t is exhausting. The energy it takes to maintain the fantasy will lead to burnout. It will come out somewhere and often affects your health. As leaders you need to be yourself, be authentic, and show those you lead that, whilst work throws up many curve balls, it is possible to get through.
And the irony is: the generations now coming into the workplace want to see leaders who are authentic.
The UK likes beautiful looking vegetables. According to an article in the Guardian on 19th September 2013, “up to two-fifths of a crop of fruit or vegetables can be wasted because it is “ugly”, a report on food waste has shown.”
40% of the crop then was wasted because it wasn’t the ‘right’ shape. As human beings we often discount ourselves because we perceive that we aren’t the right shape. We think we aren’t clever enough, didn’t go to the right school. Yet the truth is you all have value, you are unique, there is only one of you. To bring the best version of you, broken as you may be, into the workplace is amazing. To see yourself this way requires a change of view.
Change the View
A few years ago, I came across a Japanese method for repairing ceramics called Kintsugi. An image is attached to this blog. The story goes that in the late 15th Century a Japanese shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China for repairs in the late 15th century. What was sent back to the shōgun as a repaired tea set was unacceptable as far as he was concerned, and he ordered his craftsman to find a different way to fix it. Kintsugi was the result, combining resins with gold. Instead of being ugly, the repaired pottery has a different kind of beauty it is not like the original and yet it is still beautiful.
Most of us are broken in some way. The trick is to recognise the beauty in ourselves and others that has come about because of what we have experienced. Perhaps you are not as pristine as you were, but you are someone of value who has something to give and so do those you lead.
To lead others well you must lead yourself first. At the heart of this is something said by Jesus in the Bible:
“Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
It may be a soft skill, but the inference is if you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. My challenge to you is simple: BE YOURSELF. You will need help to do this. Lean into it, the results will be life changing.