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I was a shitty leader!

Plagued by perfectionism.


Obsessed with results, and relentless in my pursuit of success.


A pivotal moment forced me to dig deeper.


It was December 2015 and we were discussing a critical project that had hit a roadblock.


Tensions were running high.


My usual approach was to push harder expecting the team to fall in line.


However, that day, something inside me prompted a different response.


I took a step back, noticing the anxious expressions and furrowed brows on my team members' faces.


Instead of focusing solely on the project's objectives, I asked a simple question, "How is everyone feeling about this situation?"


The room fell silent for a moment.


My question caught them off guard.


Slowly, one by one, team members began to express their concerns and frustrations.


They felt overwhelmed and invisible.


Yikes!


 

I went on a conscious journey to reshape my leadership style after that day.


Seeking the guidance of a coach, I diligently applied the principles laid out before me.


However, in September 2016, as I was commuting on the subway, I encountered a grave setback — a panic attack.


The problem?


Too much empathy!


Empathy, I realized, is an immersive experience that engulfs our entire being.


When we empathize with someone, we not only absorb their emotional state but also mirror their physical reactions.


Consequently, empathizing with a stressed individual inevitably plunges us into the same sea of anxiety and stress.


And that's exactly what was happening to me.


FACT - empathy doesn't automatically make us great leaders.


When we get all worked up and stressed out from empathizing, we lose our ability to stay present.


This means we can't listen or provide the support that another human needs.


There is a solution.


 

➡️ Compassion.


Compassion, in essence, involves caring deeply about the suffering of others and actively seeking ways to alleviate it.


From a scientific perspective, when empathy accompanies distress, our bodies respond with the stress-induced fight-or-flight mode.


In contrast, compassion maintains a serene and connected physiological state.


Please don't get me wrong, empathy is a big part of being human.


People who don't have empathy can cause a lot of harm.


But sometimes, too much empathy can be tough on us.


It can wear us out.


𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴.


For instance, you can wholeheartedly revel in the happiness of dancing with a friend.


However, when that same friend is gripped by sorrow, that's the moment to gracefully transition into compassion mode.


 

Image credit: MMS Worldwide

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