Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dancing In The Rain...

...because it's the best way to live.

Photo © Rebecca Abell

I've had more than my fair share of stresses in the past few months, as my Kleenezelady blog shows. They've taught me a lot and, as with the rest of my life, I wouldn't change a minute. How else would I learn and grow?

The key thing I've taken from the past week is this:

You can only truly be a leader if you understand those you wish to lead.

I've been on the receiving end of a heck of a lot of assumptions in my time. I've had to deal with misogyny, ageism (too young/too old), accusations of tokenism and worse. I've made assumptions too, and I've changed how I behave and think about others when I've realised my mistakes.

So, of course, it upsets me when, yet again, I have to cope with a complete lack of understanding about what makes me the person I am. I could whinge, or I could learn.

Here's a few of the more recent lessons:

Take Responsibility for your Relationships

Start with the basics. The people we work with are spending as much time with us, if not more, than our family and friends. We influence and are influenced by the behaviour of everybody we interact with. We should be taking responsibility for how those interactions go.

If the newsagent is grumpy, we could smile at him more. If a colleague or neighbour is quiet or reserved, don't avoid them or brand them as "cold". They could be waiting for you to make friends. They might turn out to be the best friend you've never had. You'll never find out if you exclude them.

Remember Your Manners

My son holds doors open for people who don't even think to say thank you. He carries on anyway. I'm extremely proud of him.

We all know of people who never say please or thank you; who are stingy with their tips; who delight in playing the blame game; who would rather shush people than listen and learn. We owe it to ourselves not to sink to that level.

I live by the philosophy I learnt from my mother - to treat everybody equally, be they prince or pauper, because you can never tell what they will become. I like to think my son has learnt from me.

Assertive Trumps Passive

Most people reacts badly to somebody who is passive. Depending on their own personality, they will take advantage, or pile work on you until you crack under the strain, or make you the target of their own unique brand of negative spin. Others may ignore you when you ask for support or assistance. Don't let them get away with this - you can't change their behaviour, but you can understand it and change yours accordingly. Learn to be comfortable with saying "No" in all its guises. Practice being quietly confident of your own self-worth. Be proud of your abilities, your skills and your values. These are all truisms, but that's because they are part of the same global consciousness as "Do as you would be done by" and "An it harm none, so mote it be". Being assertive helps make the world a better place.

Lead By Example

Do what you say you're going to do, when you say you'll do it. Even if you don't want to. Be the "you" that you'd want to be best friends with. And don't beat up on yourself if you get things wrong occasionally.

With thanks to Ted Rubin for the inspiration.