What does it mean to be emotionally courageous? And why is it important to leadership?
Emotional courage boils down to this – it’s the courage to feel everything. Not an easy choice to make. Sure, it’s easy to feel the highs. Like the rush of success when that big deal closes – you’re a company hero! Who wouldn’t want to feel that? But what about the lows … Like when that risk you took crashes and burns? Or when your business partner up and leaves you for another opportunity? Those are not as much fun to feel. We know.
Emotional courage requires a commitment of vulnerability and an expression of openness. If you’re like most people, vulnerability and openness live in the camp of “no way am I going to be *that* open at work, what if they see how I truly feel or what I really think? I’ll be labeled weak…or worse.”
Here’s where courageousness comes in. By allowing ourselves to feel – we’re creating a process in which we validate our own emotions as important, necessary, and informative to our current experience. Repressed or *stuffed-down* emotions and feelings don’t go anywhere, except deeper and deeper into our psyches. And, the deeper they go, the more chaos they create.
If you think you’re “over it” just because you ignored the emotion…guess what – it absolutely will pop out somewhere else at another time. That feeling you *think* you’re hiding…turns out, it’s wreaking havoc in another area of your life–likely in your relationships. Avoid these feelings long enough and you’ll create a mindset rooted in fear, self-preservation, isolation and avoidance. In a leadership capacity, these energies will lead to short-sighted decision making, strained relationships, and a lack of support from your colleagues and friends.
So how do we flip the narrative? Is it even OK to be “emotional” at work? Well…plain and simple, yes. We need to be. We are emotional beings. Just because we clocked in, doesn’t mean our human wants, needs, desires and expressions clock out. The more we ignore these aspects of ourselves, the more unpredictable (and dare we say passive-aggressive) we get.
To be a leader means you are committed, connected and courageous. Commit first to yourself, and then to your people, projects and passions. Affirm your self-confidence and your ability to manage any situation that shows up in your world. (After all, you’ve gotten this far in life…) Then, realize that you are a connected being – feeling and navigating through your own internal and external environments. When you honor your own feelings and emotions, no matter what comes up, you honor the flow of *what is*. (And, when you get good at honoring your own feelings, you can easily honor the feelings of others – this is a big win when leading.) Lastly, stand courageously! You’re an unstoppable force for good in your workplace and beyond, all because you’re allowing yourself to experience the richness of what it means to be human at work. And – because you’re a leader, you’re going to permission other people to let their guard down too. Way to lead, hero – we see you!