Standing Out or Blending In?

I’ve been reading an article on leadership, specifically on leaders being attacked emotionally.  Woh … I cringe at the thought of being the target of abuse.  Too scary.  Surely I’d run away, hide in my house, play it safe.  But that leaves such a bitter taste in my mouth.  I know I’m up for more than that in life.

I tell myself that I want to contribute to people in a big way.  For that to happen, surely I need to be visible, not just an anonymous giver.  To be naked in the world, the beauty and warts right there for all to see.  Going towards rather than away from.

The authors are Harvey Jackins and his son Tim.  Here are some of their very pointed thoughts:

It is almost part of your job as leader to make mistakes.  Part of your job as leader is to keep trying new, difficult things, to keep stretching yourself enough that there is a chance of error.  (Who, me?  Yes, me.)

An attack is not an attempt to correct mistakes … The effect of attacks is always to destruct, to restimulate [trigger egoic patterns] … and to generally disrupt the functioning [of the community].  (It sounds like an attack is a deliberate attempt to injure rather than an assertive way to deal with an issue.)

Almost always, being attacked is an indication that you are doing something rather well.  (So, am I committed to pursuing a dream that will benefit humanity … or not?  Is my stand worth the flak that likely will come my way?)

Almost always it has fallen to the person who is the object of the attack to handle the attack.  That is a mistake.  (You mean I have to be brave, to be “out there”, even if I’m not the one being attacked?  Answer: You don’t have to.  You can choose to.)

Anyone you have seen working hard for years to benefit many people deserves for you to hold off that bit of restimulation, and take a stand for them, for yourself, for the community and our work.  (So, I’ll be strong enough to resist being triggered by the attack on another and therefore me reliving past fears.  I’ll be strong enough to stand tall for my set-upon colleague.  Answer: Yes.)

We do not allow anyone the option of attacking someone.  You have the option of giving up that behavior or you have the option of not being part of this community.  (Straight shooting.  Not peaceful co-existence.  Not live and let be.)

Do I have the cojones to say to someone attacking myself or another “That’s it!  No more.  We will talk later.  Back off!  You don’t get to behave that way, no matter what happened in the past.  Maybe there is a problem.  Maybe there isn’t.  We will figure it out.  But you don’t get to treat anybody that way.  I wouldn’t let anyone treat you that way.  You have to stop, now.”?  (Okay, here’s where the rubber hits the road.  Do I speak up in the face of myself or others being demeaned, disparaged, insulted, stepped upon … or remain suppressedly silent?  Hmm.)

Most organizations have attacks going on frequently, and it’s always disruptive of the organization.  It always limits their effectiveness because much of the time people are too upset by the attacks to actually do the work they’re in the organization for.  (Hmm again.  What a waste of time.  What a waste of the precious human energies that are eager to do good.  Let’s change this.)

Stand up
Speak up
Grow up