As a coach, I am a student of humanity. My version of “nerding-out” is hanging out with other people who are insatiably trying to learn from everything, in service of being a better leader in their life and their work. As a self-proclaimed leadership nerd, I have a legit leadership tribe (how nerdy is THAT?), and on a recent call, we talked about a really fun question from a fellow (and beloved) nerd, Allegra: “who wants to join me this weekend in messing some stuff up?”
Girlfriend, I am so already there! Who doesn’t know how to mess stuff up? You can’t have magic without your mess. Your mess is your message. You can’t have ME without my MEss. We are all going to make a big mess, knowingly or unknowingly. It’s not actually about the mess, it really is all about how we RECOVER from the mess, and find our way quickly back to the higher version of who we want to be.
The current version of my mess? It’s the world’s mess too - you guessed it, Coronavirus (COVID-19)! I’m admittedly creating a really good mess out of that mess. Anyone who knows me knows - I am a big germaphobe who is also prone to worry, and who likes to worry about her kids, just for sport. Add in a widespread virus that’s impacting the world? A perfect storm mess! I’m in reactive mode, not creative mode, which means my energy is down, my anxiety is up, and I’m withdrawing into a bubble of not wanting to be outside or come into contact with anyone other than a lysol wipe. I’m a people person, so this makes me miserable. Another leadership nerd, Adele, reminded me that my kryptonite to most things is my most powerful energy—playfulness.
I love to laugh, and if I’m not laughing in my house, someone is usually crying, or about to be. Well, a few days ago, my nanny came to me with a worried look on her face, as she admittedly had an update I wasn’t going to like while she was staring at her phone. ‘Oh my god,” I thought to myself, ‘someone we know has the virus.’ Still looking at her phone, she said in a concerned tone “I hate to tell you this, but...I think you are going to have to change brands of toilet paper, fresh direct is COMPLETELY OUT!” And just like that, after a pregnant pause to ensure I heard her correctly, we had the BIGGEST BELLY LAUGH at my expense you could ever imagine! THIS is the level of anxiety I am creating in my house?
Just at that moment, I had the awareness to just know that wasn’t where I wanted to be. And so I chose acceptance—acceptance of my worry and concern and ridiculous behavior. I chose to give myself a break. It wasn’t time to beat myself up and get stuck - it was time to take awareness and acceptance and use it to quickly launch into recovery-mode. The thing is, you can’t move forward if you don’t accept the present - that doesn’t mean that you like it, it just means you accept it so you can move on.
The bottom line is, recovery is about owning your sh-t. It’s about knowing your best-kryptonite energy, and getting back to it gracefully and without too much shame or apology. It’s about self-awareness and self-acceptance. It’s about laughing at yourself and finding the learning in everything. It’s about granting yourself permission to be who you are, and taking responsibility for your impact. It’s about choosing to get unstuck. It’s about showing the world that practice over perfection is way more impactful, leader-like and fun. Getting into a mess is a given. Creating and learning from it is a superpower that everyone wants, and one that is well within your reach.
What’s your latest mess?