On my last post “What Is Authenticity to You?”, we explored the concept of authenticity and the courage it takes to demonstrate it.
I was put to test last week.
As part of my volunteering work, I coordinated and led a conference call with a few people to get ready for an event.
We were pushing against the last few minutes of the scheduled call time, I felt a sense of responsibility and a need to draw conclusions on all our planned topics. And we did. The call finished on time.
I had a subtle sense of discomfort in my body, and I felt a bit of unease in how the call ended.
Later that night, as I was reflecting back on the day (a daily practice), I sensed a bit of unsettledness in my body again and felt mixed emotions towards how I handled the end of the call.
Was I too pushy with my colleague John (not his real name)? I wonder if John felt that way? He seemed a bit quiet after I made my point. Or maybe I am too sensitive and over-thinking it?
The more I reflected upon it, the more I believed that I could have handled it better. I could have scheduled a separate call with him alone to discuss my concern vs making a strong point with him in front of the group at the end of the call.
With time running out on the call, I think my reactive stress behavior kicked in: being overly driven by efficiency of getting to results vs giving enough attention to the effectiveness of my approach.
I decided to write an email to John, indicating that I felt I may have been too pushy with him on the phone and I apologized.
John was very kind and didn’t make a big deal out of it, and he appreciated my email.
When I was talking to John on a separate occasion the next day, I apologized again and shared my reflection on my reactive stress behavior. John was convinced that I was sincere and appreciated my intentional effort to own my mistake.
I believe my relationship with John was strengthened after that conversation, while it could have gone the opposite way if I pretended nothing was wrong and didn’t own up to my stress behavior.
Bruce Lee once said, “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
I know there have been numerous times I ignored subtle physical and emotional signals and moved on without further reflection on whether I could have handled the situation better.
It’s much easier to just move on and pretend all is ok. But these are the precise moments when we are tested on our authenticity - whether we have the mindfulness and courage to evaluate the alignment between what we think, how we feel, how we speak and how we act.
Being intentional is humbling. Personal development is humbling.
I am glad that I paid attention to my body and heart while also recruiting mind to analyze my reactive stress behavior, which brought self-awareness and helped me show up more authentically and helped me build stronger relationships with other leaders on the team. I plan to continue the practice of staying attuned to my feelings, sensations, and thinking, and always check for alignment.
What practices do you use for reflection and personal development? How do you know if you have made a social mistake? How do you own it?
What could be one simple practice that you can integrate into your daily leadership?