I just witnessed a confession.
It wasn’t in a church booth with a teary parishioner and it wasn’t from inside an interrogation room with a repentant con man.
It was in my living room with an overtired 9-year-old.
It seems her mother walked by her room after lights-out to discover her reading in her bed. She was issued a punishment. She was a little too upset. We told her to go to sleep and we’d talk in the morning. But a few minutes later, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“I have to tell you,” she gasped between over-dramatic sobs outside her bedroom. “Sometimes, on the weekends… I…. turn my lamp on when you leave my room after tucking me in and.… and… I READ!!”
Her guilty conscience needed cleansing. We had a talk about trust and honesty and passed around a few hugs. She calmed down, breathed deep and when I tucked her under her covers for the final time this evening, she looked up and sighed, “Man. That was HARD.”
Being honest about our shortcomings IS hard – at any age. But being able to admit when you are wrong or not skilled at something or not able to give your best is what separates strong leaders from weaker imitations.
I like to quote myself often for once saying, “Self-awareness makes all sins more forgivable.”
This is a statement that defines my marriage. My wife and I have an understanding that most fights can be ended and confrontations cooled when one of us throws this sentence down as the gauntlet:
“I know I am being unreasonable/grumpy/a pain, etc., but…”
One of my current favorite co-workers sometimes lacks some tact, but he is aware of this tendency.
Sometimes his emails will simply say, “I am about to be blunt…” and I know to not take what he types as an attack.
The point is that none of us are perfect. Take the time to learn your imperfections and tendencies. Figure out what you aren’t any good at doing.
As a young manager, I used to struggle in trying to appear in control. You learn quickly that in some ways you will never have it all together and people will respect your leadership much more when you are open about the places where you could use some help.
Admitting where you lack allows you to identify the proper people who can accent your style and pick up the slack. Having a well-rounded team makes for a better workplace, a better soccer team, a better home life.
Don’t let your insecurities keep you from winning. Be confident about where you need help.
And now – you can turn off the light and go to sleep. Rest easy.