Whether you think of yourself as a leader or not, our current world circumstances are asking each of us to courageously offer our hearts and brilliance to our communities and families.
All of us are being called to lead, support, and serve others in some capacity.
We cannot live in this world and imagine that we are separate from others’ suffering.
Each of us must compassionately lead if even in a small way, be that with your family, a friend, your community, your business, your colleagues, or your teammates — there’s an important leadership role for you to fulfill.
To truly serve another and be an effective leader, you must possess a fundamental component.
Being a TRUTH-TELLER
There’s a common habit in the coaching and personal growth field that mentors and coaches often default into. This is the habit of pleasing. The thought that gets anchored is, “I’d rather have you like me than speak what is on my mind, truthfully.”
We’ve been taught since childhood to remain within the safe confines of “just keep your mouth shut,” “don’t rock the boat,” and “avoid sharing your heart because you might look stupid.”
We must release ourselves from this restrictive conditioning, and open ourselves up to give (and receive) honest, compassionate feedback rooted in the altruistic desire to serve.
Truth-Telling Isn’t “Dumping”
By truth-telling, I do not mean that you should verbally throw up and unleash your unprocessed emotions, projections, and psychic garbage onto another person (whether it’s your client, intimate partner, or personal friend). That’s not what I am suggesting.
There is a common modern refrain, “just speak your truth.” Unfortunately for most people, their “truth” is being influenced by a whole host of underlying wounds, which actually lead away from the truth of what they really want to communicate.
Perhaps you have no problem speaking up and communicating your truth, and maybe that has gotten you into trouble. One suggestion for you is to embrace silence before you speak, make a commitment to feel yourself, and actually communicate with yourself before speaking it to another person.
Feel it in your body
When we speak without checking with ourselves, we often end up saying things that we later regret. The first step in truth-telling is to tell it to yourself and feel how it lands in your body. Your body is your greatest source of feedback.
You have to be willing to take a risk by giving respectful feedback and reflection, knowing that genuinely serving another is more important than pleasing them.
Be open to non-resonance
Your truth may not resonate with others. One place we can get stuck is when we receive a reaction from another after speaking our truth. You must be open enough to be met with a totally different reality from another.
Be prepared – at some point, you may piss someone off. And that’s ok.
For me, the friends I have who will call me out on my blindspots are those I seek to connect with when I am at a crossroads or need support.
Truth-telling has to be rooted in some kind of skillful grounding practice. Any kind of body-based practice can greatly support you in speaking what’s true for you. If you’ve never tried this, I highly recommend practicing physical movement before speaking.
If you are a coach or a leader and find yourself in situations where you want to speak up, but your negative internal voices are stopping you, what can you do?
You can’t get up and start doing jumping jacks, but you can, in the moment, feel the weight of your body sitting in your chair (or standing up). Try taping your legs and shoulders to help get you into your body. You can also imagine sending tree roots down into the earth from your feet.
Being a conscious man and skillful leader requires truth-telling warriorship. It can sometimes feel really uncomfortable and show up as stress and tension in your body. When you commit to being a truth-teller, you’re going to face situations where you’re put on the hot seat.
Transformation is born through pressure and heat!
Context and Delivery Matter
The context in which you speak your truth is just as important as the content.
You may be called to speak an essential truth about your feelings to your intimate partner.
Truth-telling with an intimate and romantic partner must be done in a safe and co-created space.
Truth-telling does NOT mean simply going around and giving everyone advice or asserting your opinions where they are not welcomed.
You may have a situation at work that calls for you to speak your truth about a team project. Truth-telling is using “I” statements and sharing how “I feel.” It’s not about blaming or shaming others.
Truth-telling in coaching and leadership has to come with an invitation (or an agreement for feedback) from the other first.
Whether you are someone who’s in the habit of pleasing and always holding back, or you’re the other end of the spectrum and often blurt out your every thought, I want you to look at the underlying programs that keep you in the habit of under-communicating, or over-communicating.
For you brothers that are under-communicators- What’s really at risk if you speak your mind?
For men that tend to over-communicate- What’s really at risk if you take a breath and just remain silent to allow your deeper truth to arise from that place of stillness rather than from your emotional reaction?
I have a challenge for you.
Give truth-telling feedback to someone in your life that is open to it.
Take the risk of not being liked and lovingly serving another with compassionate and reflective feedback. You’ll be surprised how much deep connection can come from simply being honest. Remember to get permission before giving feedback / truth-telling to another.
Being a truth-teller is:
Speaking the unspoken.
Speaking from the heart.
Not advice-giving (unless asked for).
Inviting the uncomfortable.
Communicating the essence (not going on and on).
I’d love to hear from you on how you’ve taken on this challenge.