Why do we kill our leaders? The big deal messengers and revolutionaries get assassinated or crucified. We shred our men for their weaknesses and failures and shun our women for their cellulite and saddlebags.
It’s no wonder that there’s a collective fear of sticking one’s neck out. It’s not a shock to me that most of us are pre-occupied with what others are going to think. When we really take a stand, use our voice and take the front line of something that matters, we open ourselves up to all sorts of scrutiny.
We have an insane imagination that those who lead should be perfect. Over and over I’ve heard people rip and tear at someone who’s really rocking it, taking risks and leading something. They point out this person’s flaws, holes and inadequacies with a kind of contempt as to strip them from any credibility, and usually what’s being pointed out and ripped down has nothing to do with the expertise that’s being offered.
All the while we idealize expertise. We hand the responsibility of our health over to doctors without keeping any for ourselves. We look to the experts to tell us what to do and who we should be and what’s possible. We relate to the expert as some kind of savior. Our standard for their entire humanity is unattainable, elevating their expertise to guru status. When they fall from grace, they fall hard.
So we end up with a culture of people who feel like inadequate frauds unless they have all the answers and are afraid to say ‘follow me’ unless they know where it leads. We end up with leaders who project images and hide shadows or bear an unreasonable responsibility for the outcome.
I’d rather be your friend than your teacher, your peer over your mentor. I’d prefer to be lovingly teased for the things I suck at than have to hide those away and feign perfection. And yet, I don’t shy away from leading, teaching or mentoring. I just don’t think I need to present like I’m something special or doing something that others aren’t capable of in order to use my voice.
Do I have expertise? Sure. Am I great at things? You betcha. I also have a lot of dishes in my sink, a smashed up car and stretch marks. And these, among all my foibles, failures and imperfections, do not negate my capacity to make a difference and offer what I have.
We hold ourselves and each other to bullshit standards which results in fraudulence and fakery and a really stressed out culture.
We need leaders. We need innovators. We need to be taking risks and trying new things in order to solve problems and make things happen. If we could all just agree to let each other be human, to back each other up, to make room for failure and mistakes while taking responsibility for ourselves, we could tap into so many more resources, ideas and expertise that’s tucked away because it’s not yet perfect.