“Be a leader, not a follower.” This is one -ism that always comes to mind when I think about my dad, and who I am as a person. Starting when I was very young, until basically the day he passed away, my dad told me to “be tough.” To mask my feelings. To power through. To be what he thought was a leader. And for a long time, I thought I was a natural at all these things. It’s funny how sometimes, when you start to scratch beneath the surface, you are quick to find some cracks — even in your own foundation.
The jury’s officially in: Inside, I am really a sensitive, shy human being. I think my Dad was, also — which is probably why he tried to teach me how he wanted to be instead of how he was. If you know me, I think you’d likely see me as confident and outgoing — but that is only how I am outwardly. Inside, I am actually fairly insecure.
Yesterday, I was telling some co-workers that every night, when I leave the office and drive home, I begin to pick apart all the little pieces of my day — from start to finish. Should I have handled a conversation differently? Did I make the right decision? Should I have involved myself, or ignored something? Was I supportive? Was I indifferent? Did I make someone mad? Did I get in the middle? Could something I said have been misconstrued? Did I thank the barista who made my coffee? Did I express myself appropriately at work? At home? To someone on the phone? The conversation with my co-workers was the first time I realized that this is not normal behavior. I didn’t used to nitpick. Every. Single. Thing. But now it’s a regular occurrence. Sometimes these thoughts even keep me awake at night.
It made me realize just how much pressure I must put on myself (ahem, all leaders must put on themselves). And also how much pressure others put on me — even folks who I don’t try to or have power to lead. Think about what it must be like to make decisions as a lowly mid-level manager of a small team — like I am. Or as the head of a household. Or as the CEO of a company. Or, dare I say it? As the President of the United States. All of these jobs are extremely important, with varying levels of power and influence. People go to these leaders for advice, for insight, for guidance. But every little thing the person in charge (PIC) does can be praised, scrutinized and/or criticized, depending on who is watching. It’s a lot of responsibility.
This week, I was able to catch up with a personal trainer from years ago, Kyle. He is absolutely precious, totes Fit AF, and wise beyond his years. He reached out to help me work on my form in a effort to reduce my knee pain. We laughed the entire session, because people tell me all the time that I have great weight-lifting form, but it was immediately clear to both of us that every basic exercise I did needed some serious tweaks. Every one, you guys! It was a terribly humbling experience to have someone critique every-day, normal movements that I thought I was pretty good at. 🙂
We went over some new, Kyle-proof rules to fix my form, encourage more powerful and effective movements, break bad habits, and ultimately reduce stress on my knee:
- Rooting my feet to the ground and twisting in, pushing my knees outward in every moment.
- Tightening my core – this is an area in which I’ve always struggled.
- Bringing my elbows in on just about every movement.
- Hinging at the waist, even on a squat.
- I’m told I have “Cheerleader Butt Syndrome,” where your butt pokes out when it shouldn’t. We worked a great deal on that.
- No more arched back — only a flat back from here-on-out.
- Tucking my hips under.
- The list goes on and on.
I couldn’t help but think that my new form totally translated into struggles in my life. If I revisit just the past few months in my mind, I can see that, yes, both weight lifting and being a leader come naturally to me. When others stand around and flail trying to figure out what’s next, I’m already making moves. I’m not afraid to make tough calls and push myself or others to do the right thing — at work, at home, in the gym, in life. And doing so comes with a cost.
- More responsibility
- Self confidence/confidence from others
- Loss of friendships/other relationships
- Loss of trust/respect
- Self criticism/criticism from others
I think a key learning from me is that a good leader can never make everyone happy. But they can follow their gut and do what they think is best for the greater good (which is a place that I am 100% confident I’m always coming from). I can no longer continue to nitpick every interaction in a day. I have to let go, root my feet, tighten my core, and adapt to new situations as they come. If I can learn better habits and tweak my form as a leader, I will also grow and handle things better and better over time. I think Dad would approve of this philosophy. I’m just one person doing the best I can…and you know what? So is everyone else.
Thanks for reading! Xo.