No, this article is not about setting aside your judgement and becoming more compassionate towards those you lead to create better connections. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I’m proposing that to maximize your relationships with others, you must first boldly accept yourself…flaws and all.
Let me explain.
Acceptance requires reflection and ownership of your truth. All of us show up with strengths and struggles, but too many of us only acknowledge the parts of ourselves that our companies, customers, community, and our families applaud. We bury, ignore or discount our less attractive traits and behaviors which directly affects those we lead.
For example, it’s easier to own your role in increasing quarterly revenue, than to admit the intimidation used to drive sales. It’s far easier to own and speak proudly of your child’s excellent grades, rather than confess your tactics included yelling, shaming and blaming.
As a leader you must accept, rather than reject, your weaknesses and foibles. After all, we can’t change what we won’t acknowledge.
Accepting all of yourself doesn’t give you a hall pass to continue poor behavior by kicking back and saying, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” Instead, acceptance provides an opportunity to examine your methods thus far. Ponder why you choose to shame another rather than find compassion and empathy to reach the same result. Is it, perhaps, because you have little compassion or empathy when you slip up or fall short of a goal?
That was certainly my story, perhaps you can relate. Until I accepted the fact that I was enough as is, not when I lost 50 lbs.; attained the promotion; or didn’t screw up, I couldn’t sustain healthy relationships in my life. After asking myself some deep, penetrating questions, I came to understand my quest for perfection and the need to present an image that I had it all together. Turns out, at my core, I believed that I had to be perfect to feel okay, worthy or lovable.
Now that I owned this truth, what next? After all, acceptance requires action. Therefore, I learned how to give myself the approval I was seeking in others. I learned how to stop beating myself up when I made a mistake or didn’t live up to my expectations. Ironically, the more I accepted myself, the less demanding I was in all my relationships. The more kindness I showed myself, the more I had to give to others. The deeper the connection with myself, the deeper my relationships became with others.
Too many believe that accepting all of yourself as is means you don’t want to get better, but that’s a lie. Acceptance doesn’t mean you don’t want to grow, improve and challenge yourself. Acceptance simply means you stop using your energy to tear yourself down…which, in turn, prevents you from tearing down others.
Connected leaders don’t protect or deflect their struggles. Instead, they celebrate all of themselves, course correct any liabilities and cultivate their connections as a result.
What self-image do you need to trade in for self-acceptance to grow you and your team to the next level?