I had a long chat recently with a former colleague and it was a delightful opportunity to catch up. She was the sort of confidante who could lift up the entire universe with her good humor and work ethic. The kind of colleague that you clamor to be near… shiny, smart and driven…and unafraid to call out crapola when she saw it.
What happened to these plainspoken workplace warriors like my friend? Before folks began to worry so much about image and “managing the message”. I always thought you needed to possess a message – have a point of view – before you worried about naysayers. Oh…right, right. I was privileged. Privileged to learn from people with purpose, fostering an agenda that focused on greater good, not lining their pockets or padding their resumes.
In the catching up chat, I learned about a series of Lemony Snicket-Worthy Unfortunate Events 😊 that have befallen a former nemesis. I’m not sure if I should openly confess my periodic feelings of ill will toward this person. (Roll around with pigs and then complain that you stink? Isn’t that someone’s bright and brilliant observation?)
Instead, I moved past The Stupid (my global category, at times, for people I deem unworthy of consideration – period). Stupid describes how I feel if I mull them over for too long. Stupid describes the person as well. What a terrific twofer!
My dad was a dedicated leader. He’d remark, like my dear friend, that some people, as they ascend, and gain power DO know their truth – despite the carefully crafted façade. They’re secret keepers, well aware that they’re posers (imposter syndrome before it was an apt label).
Rather than DO the work and lead the people, they fixate on the impact of every decision on themselves, rarely considering the downstream implications and often lacking any semblance of an intrinsic ethics code. What takes guts and gumption? Admitting you’re unsure, wielding the strength of character to confess your mistakes…things that lackluster leaders dare not consider because popping the top on the big box of insecurities is unthinkable. Fearsome.
My dad joked that some buttheads that he’d encountered were worthy of Hurricane classification and it still makes sense to me. Wild and unpredictable, destructive and unstoppable. Right now, I hope that some who’ve been in the path of a particular storm…one whipped up by an unworthy leader…will find a calm space. A moment of breath-catching before another wave rolls in.
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