Let’s get personal. It’s challenging to share personal information as we navigate leadership. After all, everyone does not have the best intentions in their hearts so there are risks when we invite others into our personal lives or make disclosure beyond our resumes.
Everything in my upbringing goes against the public sharing and exposure. “What goes on in this house, stays in this house,” reads The Black Mothers’ Bible Chapter 1, Verse 1. The stone tablets of Women’s Leadership say, “Put on your big girl bossy pants. Never let them see you sweat.”
So, how did I get to
a place where I can share my embarrassments and personal challenges, and is it a path that I recommend for others?
I began to share as women leaders began to share with me their stories. Their stories help me know I wasn’t alone, and the challenges are not insurmountable. I was a listener. It was not my intent to share. However, they touched, moved, and inspired me. They were my mirror reflecting back at me the hardships and the window giving me the view of moving beyond them and opportunities that awaited. In that space I opened up, breaking the codes and tablets. We enjoyed the richness of the human experience —connection, relatedness, and belonging.
Then at some point the rest of the world didn’t look as frightening. I can share the my personal history outline:
*Descendant of slaves
*Granddaughter and daughter of rural, domestic, and auto workers
*1st generation college graduate
*Challenges and dynamics: divorce, single parenting, blended families, poverty, miseducation, drug and alcohol addictions, abuse neglect, and mental health issues
My outline represents my human experience, but and the feelings evoked by it are common to many. I can fill in the details at the appropriate times with the appropriate people. In my interactions this week, I shared my feelings of loss as my current supervisor retires and my team asked if I was okay. Connected. Relatedness. Belonging. We experienced the richness of the human experience. Their fingerprints are on my heart. So, I invite us all to be mirrors and windows, and when appropriate, let’s get personal.