Naked & Unashamed: Lead Forward

Today is a Good day to leapHow do you react in the face of adversity, especially when it is driven by something from your past that you fear to admit publicly? For most of us, leadership and being vulnerable are not cozy bedfellows.

During difficult times, or experiences, it is difficult to admit everything has completely broken down and the center does not hold anymore. Pride and a sense of self-preservation take over, and we grow a callous hedge around ourselves or sweep the dirt under the carpet.

Enemy Within. This is the cradle of the absolute dearth of intentional and character-based leaders. ‘Leaders’ are a dime a dozen at work, home and the political arena. Sanity, direction, hope, and mentor-ship are in short supply. Selfishness abounds with a vice-grip on our souls and drives us to the misplaced need to satisfy ourselves first with serving only a remote thought. Everything else, including children and spouse, become secondary.

This virus is driving the rot we experience all around us. The enemy within, one may muse, seems too large a dragon to slay. Like I did, it is possible not to appreciate the hurt your  family relations have exposed you to. That enemy is bitterness, anger, resentment and lack of forgiveness wrapped up in a tight package.

However, some of us are so wounded by our fathers, mothers, relatives or friends to appreciate that being vulnerable has the ability to make us stronger. We are too proud or afraid to admit that we are hurting, that we are mortally wounded and need urgent care. This places a titanium cap on our ability to lead effectively. We clam up in fear.

Writing “Down But Not Out: Becoming a Significant Leader at Home” was my way to deal with the wounds I had received from my father. As I pointed out in Leadership is a sacred trust, he was absent when I was a young, vulnerable boy growing up. It was the first step toward a grueling journey of forgiveness and freedom for a heart enslaved in bitterness.

Healing Wounds. If you intend to become a leader, and hope to take leadership to the next level, you’ll need to challenge your thinking to refine your direction. Forgiveness is the key to this new thinking. For without forgiveness, you remain a prisoner-of-war, in a jail where you cannot post bail or request for an appeal.

‘The spiritual life begins with the acceptance of the wounded self.’ Really? How can that be? The reason is simple: ‘Whatever is denied cannot be healed.’ But that’s the problem, you see. Most men deny their wound–deny it happened, deny that it hurt certainly deny that it’s shaping the way they live today.” John Eldredge, Wild at Heart.

For me, I had to start all over again. I debunked the myth that I am that ‘real’ man not vulnerable enough to accept that I carried with me a shipload of wounds. My macho image had to fall off if I was to live a life full of meaning.

Then the tears came, I could not hold them back. The painful wounds came back to me like an uncontrollable flood. I had expected the tears to bring with them a dark grey cloud from the past. Surprisingly, as the tears flowed, the darkness clouding my life began to dispel. My soul felt like it was bathing in a warm soothing flood. I sensed the healing had started. It was like a balm was soothing my deep, painful wounds.

The Law of the Lid. To raise the bar in my ability to lead, I had to pop my lid open. This is what John C. Maxwell refers to as ‘The Law of the Lid’ in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He states “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” I was afraid to be vulnerable. I did not want others to know the pain that held me captive. This raging pain limited my ability to lead.

Only when I started to open up did I see my interaction at home, work, and social circles begin to be less stressful. I was finding more joy in helping others and proactively providing guidance and direction. I began to write. I was more relaxed and less snappy. I became more patient and tolerant to others.

Leaders embrace the challenges they face, yet all my life I ran away from my demons. When I confronted them, I got the courage to embrace my ability to deal with them. When I took leadership of my innermost soul, I led others with purpose and joy.

Take action…

  • Have you been holding onto hurts and inadequacies that hold back your ability to lead?
  • Are you afraid to be vulnerable before other people?
  • What steps will you put in place to re-think your current position in order to lead forward?

“Now is the time to start ripping open a cavernous, gaping hole! Because simply making ‘a dent’, just isn’t adequate.” Todd Nielsen, in Screw “Dents”… I’m Aiming for an Immense Gaping Hole!

photo credit: Effortless Vitality via photopin cc

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kimunya Mugo,

    As a man and a father I greatly relate to this post. As you know, I am always talking about the value of fatherhood on my blog. We both know that the value is enhanced by a man’s ability to let go of bitterness, anger and resentment. They are all negative emotions and the only person we actually hurt from having them is ourselves (such as my recent bout of self-pity).

    It is very hard for any father to teach their children the value of forgiveness if we can’t forgive ourselves for being human. We all have emotions and feelings and it is only when we decide to show them that we become the men we should be. I am not saying by any stretch of the imagination a man’s place is to cry all the time. On the contrary, I am saying that men need to learn it’s okay to show emotions and that when we hold onto them we are causing ourselves the greatest harm.

    Thank you for your very thought provoking and insightful post,

    Aaron

    • Aaron, I was horrified to find the extent holding in anger and bitterness can have on our health. “Extremely low anger scores have been noted in numerous studies of patients with cancer. Such low scores suggest suppression, repression, or restraint of anger. There is evidence to show that suppressed anger can be a precursor to the development of cancer, and also a factor in its progression after diagnosis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11037954).”

      It is time to for us to forgive more, love more, laugh more and care about others even more.