They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I love this photo. Not because I am in a once in a lifetime moment standing on a stage with one of my hero's, but this exact moment caught on camera captures a catalytic moment.
I can't even remember exactly what we were saying, but I do remember that Craig challenged me and if I had to caption this it would be with a speak bubble over Craig "Really?!" and a thought bubble over me "Busted". And this in front of a few hundred leaders in the room.
But here's the thing, this moment was not humiliating, even though my legs were literally shaking and my heart was pounding so loud I was sure the microphone would pick it up. It was one of the most empowering moments of my life.
Why? Because as I looked into his eyes, there was a genuine care for me as he saw me and saw my potential. It wasn't just his words, but his eyes and face and even his body language said the same thing. "I care and I believe in the best of you" Even though he was challenging me, at no point did I feel unsafe or in danger. I felt safe, I knew I could trust him in that moment.
In these days of being so PC and trying not to offend anyone, we have lost our ability to speak truth to people in love. It is not enough to speak Truth, the key is it has to be in love, a real concern to see that person grow and increase. Truth is so relative these days, it's become so diluted and polluted.
I have had feedback in my life from different leaders and some of it left me wounded and skrinking and some of it has been particularly hard to hear but it came with such love, honour and respect that as the challenge sizzled through to the heart of the issue like a flaming hot sword, it also cleansed and healed parts that were festering and broken. As the words found their mark it was the love flowing like a thick golden oil that brought quick healing and change.
This kind of challenge or feedback causes us to grow and increase. Yes it stings, yes it hurts, yes it's hard to hear, but let's not become so concerned for comfort that we neglect to welcome the pain of Truth that will definitely make us uncomfortable but be the catalyst for growth. If those words are fueled by love and concern they will find their mark and they will have an lasting impact. But you also have to open up and instead of blocking and protecting yourself, you need to trust and surrender to it.
If you don't care for the people you lead, it will be very hard to give feedback that brings life and growth. I nearly didn't write this sentence because I know many will be thinking, there is no place for this stuff in the business environment, people just need to do their job. The thing is people are not machine's, they are whole people and if you as a leader don't see all of them and can't find the beauty in them, I am honestly coming to believe that your leadership will be limited and possible a little self centred.
Ouch! I know that is harsh, but in your heart of hearts you know it's true. If we don't care for people, it is easy to write them off and potentially even a wee bit satisfying to "take them down a notch or two". You have that power. But remember, they leave work either built up or broken down and they take that home. Your impact is huge. Let it be for good.