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Are you a leader or a people pleaser?

Becoming a leader has its price. There are those who will love and support what you do and then there are those who will not be so kind. The haters. 

A couple weeks ago I was put to the test as a leader when a hateful, angry email landed in my inbox from one of the subscribers to my mailing list.

This email was so verbally violent that it caught me off guard. The person who sent it was angry with me. She called me names, she made fun of me and belittled my writing. It was one of the most hateful emails I've ever received. 

I’ll be honest with you, this was not pretty. I was surprised to see how much this email disturbed me and threw me off my game. 

Even though I constantly receive tons of positive comments and feedback from people who read my writing, this one negative response suddenly took center stage. It was so violent and ugly that it triggered me in a way that I didn’t realize was still possible. 

Does this happen to you sometime? Do you find yourself focusing on the negative and missing out on all the good things that are actually happening? 

In a way, this email was a gift. After the initial shock and disbelief that someone would take the time to craft such a hateful message and send it, I remembered what I’ve learned about people who judge and bully. The negative comments someone makes is all about them, and not about me. 

It would have been easy for me to enter a hateful space with this reader and reply in my own violent, ugly way (which is what I initially wanted to do…) but as a leader myself, I didn’t want fear and anger to lead the way. After taking a moment to breathe and think about the situation, I realized that this person was in deep pain. The way I show up in her world clearly triggered something that caused her to lash out. All I could really be is compassionate to her suffering, wish her love and move on. 

If I had made this incident all about me, if I had believed everything she said, what kind of a leader would I be? 

To be a powerful leader you can not come from a place of people pleasing. You can’t care so much about what others think. The minute you do that, you are giving your power away. 

Sure, there will be people who disagree, who see things differently, and maybe even say hateful things about you. However, if you are truly committed to who you want to be in the world, and believe that what you have to give is valuable; you can ignore the haters, stay focused on your own path, and lead from a place of love and power.

Being a committed leader requires you to be strong. It may not always be easy, but your strength and resilience is what will inspire others to be leaders in their own lives. 

This incident only showed me that there is still some work I have to do around cleaning up some of my own people pleasing tendencies. It reminded me how much people pleasing can be a default way of being. This tendency shows up with almost every client I coach. The need to please everyone and look good can be a self-created prison that holds us back from becoming true leaders.  

Does pleasing people get in the way of you becoming a powerful leader?


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