Career/Life Tips, leadership, Reflections & Questions

Guess what? It’s OK to be human.

Image source: Porapak Apichodilok

When you’re a leader – or a parent, for that matter! – the job comes with plenty of stress. And yet, every day I see people ADDING to it by holding themselves to standards that are pretty demanding. My advice to you: STOP IT!

I started to write a “Top Ten” list of bad habits that will rachet up your stress level, but I decided to take my own advice (Bad Habit #4: Overcomplicating Things) and keep it simple. Here’s the advice, as succinctly as I can make it:

No matter how hard you try, you cannot have every answer, you won’t always get it right, and your actions won’t always match your intentions. And that doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad leader. Because – and here’s the thing – YOU ARE HUMAN. Just because you’re the boss (or the parent), no one expects you to be perfect. Don’t waste precious time and emotional energy pressuring yourself to have all answers and make only the right decisions. You can’t and you won’t.

Instead, get comfortable taking criticism, be humble enough to admit your mistakes, and learn how to make a heartfelt apology. Not only will this save you a ton of angst, but it will also make you something more worthy of following: a human. 

If you’d like to see a wonderful example of this in the real world, check out this note, recently posted by the owner of a small business (Glen’s Market) that I frequent in DC. After reading it, ask yourself: would I want to shop or eat here? My guess is your answer is YES.

And your reasons (if they’re at all like mine): Because it’s obvious she cares, takes feedback seriously, and is personally connected to the business. She took something that could’ve been harmful to her business and has used it to engage with her customers and further cement their loyalty. Don’t believe me? Read the comments.

So the next time you find yourself losing sleep over work, consider the pressure you’re putting on yourself and remember: You’re human. As some wise person said, “You don’t inspire people by being perfect. You inspire them by how you deal with your imperfections.”