The infamous words of Marlon Brando in on the waterfront, the iconic movie of the 1950s, “I could have been a contender,” sets the tone for the masks we hide behind in our leadership.
I coulda, I woulda, I shoulda, I might have, I ought to have… I could go on ad infinitum.
This language is filled with triggers. We all understand regret and lost opportunity. We also all understand the victim mentality. We all have regret and we all have lost opportunity. We all have stepped into the cesspool of victim on more than one occasion. So, we give people passes when they use this kind of language.
As leaders, it’s important to recognize when we drift into using this language; and when our team members fall into using it. Even more important is recognizing when we hide behind the could, would and should.
Each of us has our own handy vocabulary of excuses – and the reality of what ACTUALLY happened in our lives. Sure, “hindsight is 20/20” is a cliché, but boy, is it true!
By all intents and purposes, I should have been a Broadway actress. It’s what I wanted to do from the time I was eight. That or a ballerina. But I really saw the stage as my future. I started ballet at 5, singing at 12, performing at 13 and went to college for a BFA in theater. I lived and breathed performance – until I made a different choice. I _ made _ the _ different _ choice. There was nobody else. I changed my mind. But, for years I would visit the land of regret and look for a “reason” or some situation or circumstance to blame for what I had freely and willingly chosen on my own.
When I really want to have a pity party, I go to the “coulda” and “shoulda” of being an actress very easily. But that is a really old story. I’ve learned to tell a different one.
That different story is that I have 100% responsibility for all of the choices that I made to bring me to this point in my life. I have 100% responsibility for the outcome, even when I want to blame some situation or some person for derailing me. If I wanted to be derailed, I chose derailment. This is a powerful point of view for an emotionally intelligent leader. We look at all that has gone before and understand that it was our schooling. All of the disappointments, the victories, the derailments, anything…That was our schooling.
It’s too convenient to hide behind the mask of what might have been. So take a scan of your life, your habits and beliefs, and where you get stuck in your comfort zone of the past, and cut it out! Challenge those beliefs because they do not serve you and they are not attractive when you step up as a leader.
Remember, your team is watching you and they are modeling what you do, not what you say. If you want authentic connection, community and relationship, and you want results based on your team being fully engaged – take off the mask now!
Then, help someone else to take off their mask. Don’t give someone a pass for wallowing in their past.
Remember, it was all schooling. The syllabus of your life has crafted and shaped and molded the emotionally intelligent leader that you are. It ALSO has helped to shape the team members with whom you have surrounded yourself.
Take the first step toward removing your mask and reinvigorating your team with my complimentary audio workshop. To receive my F-R-E-E mini-audio workshop “The 5 REAL Reasons Your Team is Not Engaged (and it’s not what you think)” CLICK HERE.