Imagine this scenario:
As a caring at attentive husband, I wanted to go above and beyond this year for Valentines Day. My wife is pregnant with our fourth child and needed something special. Wanting to splurge a bit more than usual, I wanted to buy her an extra large bouquet of flowers. Not just the standard size that the florist wanted to offer, but something out of this world. After hunting at several different stores and pricing out options, I thought I could piece together my own. It would show a higher level of creativity and engagement on my part, it would require effort and not just the swiping of a VISA card, and I could create a unique and one-of-a-kind bouquet.
This was going to be an extravagant offer, one that would even cover me for future Valentines Day events. (clue #1 that I’ve gone astray…)
So I headed over to the dollar store and spent $50 getting a wide variety of fake flowers and assortments. (clue #2. By this time you should be saying, “Abort Mission! Abort the Mission!”
But I gave them to her anyway
Cue sad trombone music.
A little disappointed? Absolutely. Everyone is. You at my boneheadedness, her for the present, and me. Though the couch is nice, it’s not as nice as the bed.
But, that night on the couch I had some time to think about my poor choice in flowers.
My wife was quickly able to notice the difference and didn’t appreciate the “fake” gift that I bought her. Who cares how big the bouquet is, if it doesn’t look nice or smell pretty?
We can approach our leadership, and even more generally our self image in much the same way if we aren’t careful. We come across as fake to everyone, somehow cheaply pressed together by books we’ve read, podcasts we’ve listened to, and seminars we’ve attended. We don’t show weakness, we don’t show emotion, we don’t really show much of anything. We just sort of sit there hoping no-one notices that we aren’t the real thing.
Contrast that with the beauty of real flowers. They grow and adapt. They have blemishes and bad spots. They change and eventually they wilt.
But we admire them deeply for the beauty and joy they bring into our lives.
Our leadership should function in the same way. None of us are perfect, none of us have it together all the time. We grow and change and adapt. We have beautiful areas of strength and some blemishes of weakness. That’s okay. Let people see that. They won’t look down on you, they’ll appreciate it. They’ve value it. They’ll treasure your authenticity and integrity, much like they would in a real flower. That vulnerability creates a safe space for others to be honest and vulnerable. Soon, you work together enhancing each other, much like a real bouquet of flowers does.
We’ve created this culture of fear where we’ve made it unacceptable to show weakness, when what we’re all really craving is to know that we aren’t the only ones who lives aren’t perfect. Leadership happens is bold and daring moments, but it also happens much more profoundly and leaves a longer lasting impact when it’s done in the humility of brokenness and imperfection.
People can spot the differences between fakes and the real thing pretty easily, whether it’s in flowers or people.
Choose then, to be real.
How will you choose to model and show authentic leadership this week?
Please chime in below!
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