Daring to Show Up Fully

Sometimes we let the fear of not looking good get in the way of how we show up and lead.

I recently attended a leadership weekend in New Mexico and discovered that drumming was on the agenda. A number of us were sitting around a big round drum, in the middle of the desert. Meridian, our leader, started us off beating the drum and singing. Actually, it was beyond singing. She belted out the song! It felt primal. She gave it everything she had. She sang full out. No holds barred.

Yikes! This was uncomfortable and intimidating and, at the same time, very compelling. Somewhere during the song I was completely drawn in.

I took away a few leadership lessons from this experience. Meridian dared to show up fully. She did not lead us tentatively, she showed up with passion, confidence and certainty. She did it for the sake of our drumming and our leadership.

Daring to show up fully is not for the timid. It is vulnerable. It looks different for each of us. It might include speaking out loud what everyone else is thinking, asking the tough questions, saying what you really think rather than what others want to hear, giving your boss some critical feedback or engaging your team with great passion and inspiration. Many of us fear that if we show up and play big others will reject us, not like us or we might not look good. So we bring less than our 100 per cent. We stay on the sidelines instead of playing in the arena. We show up half-hearted, tentative, and ready to change direction should the wind blow.

But real leadership is not about playing it safe. Leaders find the courage to risk disapproval. They know there are times when they will serve best by showing up with all that they have and nothing held back. They do it for the sake of something important and bigger than themselves. They do it taking full responsibility for their impact and whatever emerges. At the end of the day we have great admiration for leaders that courageously show up.

Showing up fully is a mindset and a skill that can be developed. It’s like building a muscle; each time you use it, it gets stronger. So take a moment and notice where you play small because you are afraid of what others will think. Get really clear about the importance of what you’re up to, your intentions and what you want to create. Let that give you inspiration. Consider what would be possible if you really showed up.

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