There have been multiple times in my life when I can recall making a conscious decision not to lead, or a decision that I would not lead in the future.
When I first got sober, I joined a 12 step fellowship and got a sponsor. (A sponsor is a person who takes you through the 12 steps of fellowship and guides you with your homework and reading.) The 12th step talks about “carrying the message” which basically means becoming a sponsor to other people, as well as speaking and other service work.
I can clearly recall deciding (When I had like 30 days sober) that I would NEVER sponsor anyone else. The thought terrified me. I knew I would never be an expert on sobriety and I certainly didn’t want the responsibility of someone else’s sobriety on my shoulders. Absolutely not.
I have had multiple experiences where there has been a group activity, and I have made the decision to stand back. Thinking that I probably don’t know the best strategy or way to handle things.
I have heard the advice before that “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” However, it wasn’t until recently that it really started to resonate with me on a leadership level.
This statement applies to leadership as well. I don’t have to be perfect or an expert to be a leader.
So – a few weeks ago I volunteered to lead a team challenge. I was terrified. I stepped up because I wanted to grow past these fears. The experience was liberating in so many areas, and it opened my eyes to the fact that I want to be business coach. It also illuminated some great lessons for me.
No one on my team questioned my knowledge, I was honest about the fact that I don’t know everything – but I am willing to help find the answers. We were able to create a culture of teamwork, authenticity and engagement within a few short days.
I learned that as a leader, it is more important for me to be supportive and encouraging than it is for me to be the expert on everything.
I am so glad that I didn’t stick to my decision not to become a sponsor. During my sobriety I have sponsored maybe a dozen women – and it is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. Seeing another women grow from a broken, hopeless human into a person who loves and respects herself – brings me indescribable joy.
I have learned that I am not responsible for any one else’s results – sobriety or otherwise.
I am not an expert on sobriety. I am not perfect and I don’t claim to be. But what I do have, is a little more time ‘in the rooms’ and doing the work than they do at that moment in time – and that qualifies me to show them how I did it. Just like my sponsor does for me, and her sponsor before that.
12 Step Programs don’t ask us to be perfect before we sponsor people – if that was the case, most of us probably wouldn’t be there.
I don’t have to know everything. But I can help people get from where I have been, to where I am now – and that is a beautiful thing.
There is also something special about the learning that takes place for us when we are teaching something. I don’t know the neuroscience behind it, but I believe that something different takes place with my brain when I am teaching something versus when I am learning it myself.
Some things to think on:
Where have you made a conscious decision not to step up and lead?
What are you scared of?
What would happen if you stepped up?
What advice would you offer to the you of 5 years ago?
We all have value to add. We are all worthy, just because we are.
The world needs our light and our leadership, it’s time that we stop hiding because we are worried about perfection or judgement.
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