We aren’t part leader, part parent, part child and part friend. Allowing wholeness for those in our presence is an incredible leadership attribute. As we start to recognize the need for children to be seen as whole and we start to understand how children show up at school and their ability to learn have a lot to do with the environment in which they live, isn’t it time that we apply this whole person understanding with adults? Why is this different and difficult for us?
Where does one part end and another start?
I work with business executives, community leaders and busy parents who share with me the benefits of eating healthy, sleeping adequately and exercising on their productivity. They disclose the consequences of not spending quality time with people who matter on their overall wellbeing and share struggles of balancing time appropriately. But often, these folks are reluctance to talk about something outside of business objectives, strategic plans and goals, until they are reminded that being whole is really the main objective of all our discussions.
We can pretend that people are segmented and try to ignore personal struggles and celebrations at work and work struggles and celebrations at home. But, they cross. We know it. We need techniques to process our feelings, to move these emotions through us in a healthy way. Allowing wholeness for those in our presence is a critical way we can be a positive person in the lives of others, while modeling what will help us in our own lives. We all want to be healthy, whole and compassionate beings.
Tips for allowing others to be whole in our presence.
- People can’t control how they feel and feelings are neither good or bad (including anger). Let people feel.
- People want to be heard, valued and respected. Basic human needs.
- People really don’t want advice, not even OURS. People are smart and know more about their own problems than we do. It doesn’t matter what we would do. They aren’t us and don’t have the same experiences or circumstances. Unless someone asks specifically for advice, it isn’t helpful.
- Don’t judge. People want acceptance.
Events in our life can be sad, maddening, extremely happy, and a million other emotions. Help others experience them. A beloved pet passing is sad. So, let them be sad. A child’s wedding is happy. So, let them be happy. Someone cutting them off in a parking lot and hitting their car is maddening. So, let them be mad. Just allow them to be whole in your presence. Allowing wholeness for those in our presence allows them to acknowledge and experience their feelings, be heard, feel valued and accepted for who they are and not judged for a way they are feeling.
Allowing them space to feel everything deeply without judgement is a huge gift.
I’ve heard people say, you need to check “that” at the door. I heard it said before a board meeting, a team meeting, coming in the door at home. This isn’t really possible. What that really means – hold it in, bury it, I don’t want to hear about it and neither does anyone else. Acceptance is about bringing everyone to the table, people different than us and with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Telling people to check who they are or even part of what they are experiencing is saying “don’t bring all of you to this table”. Yes, people are still responsible for their actions. There should be a clear set of expectations for team/family/group time, but there should also be caring individuals ready to notice others and to allow wholeness.
Allowing wholeness for an employee.
You notice an employee is emotional or edgy during your meeting. They are more defensive then normal. Do you remind them of your authority and tell them to check their emotions at the door? Or, do you notice and offer kindness and pull them aside, letting them know you are available and then truly listen?
Allowing wholeness for a family member.
You notice a family member is especially sensitive, combative or overly quiet. Do you assert your opinion, offer advice or control? Or, do you notice and gently and compassionately ask if they are okay. Do you listen without interruption, advice giving or judgement?
Allowing wholeness for a child.
You notice your child has gone to his/her room, shut down or gotten argumentative. Do you assert your authority and control? Or, do you pull the child aside and in a loving safe space allow the child to freely talk while you listen, as difficult as it may be?
Allowing wholeness for a spouse.
You notice your spouse has exploded over something small. Do you defend your minor offense and tell them they are over reacting? Or, do you lovingly wrap your arms around them allowing them to finally release the tension they’ve been carrying and listen?
You are a gift!
Do you see the potential gift you truly are to those in your presence for providing an opportunity to allow wholeness in a world that often views the strength of vulnerability as a weakness? Don’t blow it. Don’t miss this opportunity to let someone be whole and brave and vulnerable in your presence. It may not seem like a gift when we are on the receiving end of what seems like an undeserved request, but it is.
I try to remember that there is always a reason for people’s behaviors (it might even be me). If we think long and hard, we may find one. Likely though, we may never know. Either way, let us be responsible – step up, lean in, and show compassion.
We all have a choice to open our hearts and to choose love, despite everything else. There is a lot in life that we may feel we “don’t deserve”. But as Lissa Rankin, MD so beautifully puts it in The Anatomy of A Calling, “Let life break you open and shape you into the hero you are becoming.” As we journey through life becoming our best selves, may we be there supporting and cheering those around us.
I’ll leave you with this… Allowing wholeness for those in your presence will not only make you a better leader, it will indeed enrich your life. And, may those around you give you space for your wholeness. Our world needs whole hearted leaders.