I’m jealous of my friends and family who say they have an inner voice. I have whole committees in my head, populated by a mix of smart, fearful, wise, and whiny perspectives! The view into my inner thoughts and feelings is complicated.
My observation is that we might say “I’m doing great!” or “Fine!” when people ask how we’re doing, but the reality is that inwardly we’re a complicated set of Fine and Not Great. This is why many successful people rely on meditation and mindfulness approaches to calm the inner noise.
Today I’m here today to say that it’s OK for leaders to be complicated. Let’s acknowledge our inconsistency and work with it, rather than waste time acting as if it’s not real.
My employer is a large multinational corporation. Someone recently wrote to ask how I was doing, and here is how I responded (with a few edits to protect some privacy):
100,000 foot view – I am a blessed man, with absolutely nothing to be concerned about or complain about.
50,000 foot view – Tremendous potential for new businesses, happy to see new organization coming together with business alignment and prospects to see my department’s work as integral investment for success. Abundance mindset is possible and helpful.
30,000 foot view – Good opportunity for me to help XYZ with transition to digitized future.
10,000 foot view – Still working through confusing change curve with protracted operations transition and new XYZ leadership
5,000 foot view – Concerned that some of the historic strength is being overlooked in an effort for XYZ to be different or follow management consulting conventions about how work “should” be done
3,500 foot view – Pushing some initiatives and people development opportunities to get attention in the midst of a noisy set of opportunities
2,000 foot view – Change is hard on people who have been very successful in the past. Some anxiousness about anger and frustration and disappointment expressed by people I care about.
1,0000 foot view – Self-leadership, self-leadership, self-leadership!
I hope you find this way of describing your inner complexity helpful. It’s a great way to journal through complicated feelings about messy situations. Once you’ve written it out, you can begin to see where to put your focus, what’s helpful and unhelpful, and who you need to reach out to.
Note: I would have written a different set of altitude perspectives if my colleague had asked about my family, my views on economic health of our community, etc. This is why some days my prayer request is “Lord, bless this mess, that I may bless others.”
Again, it’s OK to be complicated. It’s perfectly normal for you to have a mix of perspectives. Accept this and move forward.
Leadership insight: Everyone in your organization is experiencing life this way. Some may not be doing well, even at a 100,000 foot view. Keep this reality in mind as you shepherd your team through changes. It’s important for leaders to be bold, but also to be gentle.