Scary Honesty in Service of Growth
October 30, 2020
Authority. Some of us have it, some of us don’t. Some are afraid of it, some rebel against it, some want anything and any way to gain it. And many of us, myself included, have a complicated relationship with it.
I used to work in a customer service industry. The client was always right and I consistently felt like a punching bag no matter how hard I tried. Then I left that business and became the client. I thought this would be so much easier. I went from working for people to people working for me. I am acutely aware of how it felt to work for someone, give them my all, and then be put down no matter how hard I worked. I never wanted anyone working for me or with me to feel this way, but then I went to the other extreme. I started not being able to tell people when I was frustrated with their work or their timeline, and I still looked at those providing services for me as people to appease. (#peoplepleaserworkingonit)
One thing will never change. I will always go out of my way to be kind. I don’t need to yell or scream to get my point across, but when I am working with someone it doesn’t help either of us if I’m dishonest with my feelings about their work, or if I don’t speak up when something frustrates me or isn’t what I expected. That just makes for short-lived, frustrating, and disappointing work relationships that never reach their full beautiful potential.
As I was coming to terms with my new position as an authority figure and running my own business I watched myself completely shut people down before they could even get started because I was so afraid of ever having to tell them I was unhappy with their work. I accidentally got honesty confused with a lack of kindness.
I was on a coaching call with my personal brand facilitator, Kim. I told her that I had incorporated a new social media company into my team and I was really excited. I also told her that I had guidelines. I proceeded to list everything I didn’t want them to do and exactly how I wanted the job to be done. I went on and on about all the things I was sure before we had even begun, that I was going to be frustrated with in the future and I wanted to lay out exactly in great detail what I expected of them.
After I stopped talking, about eight minutes later, Kim asked me, “Chelsea, what is it that you’re feeling?”
My knee jerk response was, “Nothing, it’s all good, I’m just getting prepared.” But knowing Kim wouldn’t accept that, I took a deep breath and worked through the thoughts swarming my mind. She sat patiently, or at least that’s what I imagined, on the other end waiting for me to respond. I took a deep breath.
“I’m afraid I’m losing control,” I said.
I had started to use my authority as a shield. I was so afraid that in the future I may have to talk about this new company about things I wasn’t 100% happy with, afraid of having to be honest about my feelings, and I was so afraid of relinquishing a part of the control of my brand to someone else, I had found fifteen ways from Sunday to cut off their creativity before they could even begin. I was…okay, we’re being honest here, I still am afraid of this change.
When you’re on the precipice of something new when you’re growing something faster than you ever thought it would grow you have to start asking for help so that you can continue to grow instead of hindering yourself or selling yourself short. But it’s scary. It’s scary when you have something you’ve worked so hard on that’s just yours. It’s scary to try something new, to let other people in, who are authorities in their own right—in business or in relationships. But if we cut people off before they even have a chance to get going we will never know what could be. We won’t ever have the pleasure of seeing our fledgling of a dream grow into a great soaring bird because we’re so afraid to
1) ask for help and
2) relinquish some control in service of growth.
Having authority is hard and a delicate balance. Relinquishing control can be frightening, but is ultimately opening up your world to so much more, and guess what? If you go ahead and relinquish some control and it doesn’t go the way you planned you can always change, reroute, and start over.
Nothing is fixed or set in stone. I’m learning the balance between maintaining kindness, giving people creative control, and making sure my needs are met in both working and personal relationships. We’re walking a tightrope friends, but what else are tightropes really made for if not to conquer something amazing when you’re able to get all the way across one?
Here’s to taking chances, being kind, and working on control issues. I love you, have a wonderful day. XOXOX, CAMDW.