I was talking with a client recently who was clearly in some state of overwhelm. I asked him about some things that he had decided were most important , but soon realized that he hadn’t made as much progress as we had both hoped.
I have several tasks in that moment:
- Remind him about all the good things he has accomplished.
- Remind him of the more inspired destination we are working toward.
- Remind him of the importance of focusing on getting the most essential things done.
- Help him get back on track and excited to do the things he must do.
- Help him cultivate and agree to next steps.
As with most leaders, we had to first wade through the pile of things that he felt were keeping him from getting the most important things done.
He said, “I have this whole sh…”
Caught himself and then said, “I have this whole pile of things I need to get done.”
I said, “You were about to say sh$#load, right?”
He sort of smiled.
He said that he was trying to be respectful. He is not so predominately a faith-based person as I am and we have spent time talking about that.
I said, “If you were going to say sh$#load, you should just say sh$#load. If your honest emotion out of all the things you are under is best communicated in that word, that’s what you should say.”
Now, I don’t generally condone expletives and I work real hard not to use them. But in this situation, his honesty with what he is feeling and experiencing is crucially important to me.
If we are going to chart a course to where we want to get, we have to be honestly clear about where we are.
The integrity of his honesty is way more important to me than his discretion in this case. If he is censuring the words he is using, what else could he be possibly censuring? I am a big boy, I can handle a little language. I can also handle the cold hard reality of what is really going on in the life of a leader.
I have the experiential currency of having gone through a “sh$#load” of stuff myself. I know what it feels like and if I can get a client to honestly tell me what it feels like to them, we have a beautifully honest foundation to begin solving all the issues that are causing them to feel that way.
Honesty is always the best policy and if you desire to make real changes in your life, it's also the necessary currency we have to spend.
Really caring for someone requires that you allow room for their honesty. Ultimate love tells us that we can come out of hiding. There is no sense in hiding what He and pretty much everybody else already sees anyway.
- How is it going? No really, how is it going?
- Who really knows how tough, challenging, or overwhelming things feel to you right now?
- Do you have a friend, a coach, or a family member that not only encourages your honesty, but knows how to guide that honesty to better ground?
- What is it costing you to not have that?