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How Authentic People Think

Authentic people develop thought that is sourced from time and space to be a reflection of who they are.

As a person in leadership, you will be faced at some point with criticism of your leadership. In my case, the criticism came in the form of a personal attack against my character.

The following steps will lead you through the process of developing thoughts which reflect your authenticity:

  • Allow yourself to feel without demanding a reaction.

  • Give yourself space and time to think.

  • Develop your plan.

You will think through situations with clarity and focus.

The mindset of a person who lives with authenticity is clear and focused.

As a person in leadership, you will be faced at some point with criticism. In my case, the criticism came in the form of a personal attack against my character. Through digital messaging, an employee on their last day decided to share their thoughts about my character with several other employees. What they had not counted on was one of the employees bringing it to my attention. As I read the visible slander on the screen, I was hurt. I offer compassion and care to all members of my team. When our office shut down during the Covid pandemic, I took food to employees who needed some help. My husband and I have loaned tools, given furniture and provided what we could to anyone on our team in need. This particular employee now blasting my character had been the recipient of our care numerous times.

The personal work on my own mindset doesn’t insulate me from hurt. It does, however, allow me to see the bigger picture. This overview is never the first internal response. When faced with the hurt of this employee’s words, my internal defensive army began to prepare for battle. The values which govern our daily living will be what is revealed in moments of hurt, disappointment and grief. To allow these values to emerge, it requires a slower process than what most of us typically give in these situations. Rather than speeding through the highway of emotions racing to get to the accident ahead, we must treat the situation like a Sunday drive. Look around, see what is happening around you and notice what you are feeling as you drive through the scenery of the situation.

Looking at the critical message, I was able to feel the hurt and see what was happening around me. I considered the hurt or anger this employee must have felt to pick up the weapon of words and use it so intentionally against me. I also thought of the injustice against me. I thought how sad it was that this employee didn’t consider how their former colleagues would feel to receive such a message and have to decide what to do next. The position that these employees were placed in was probably not considered by the disgruntled one. I took time to consider the impact this event had on me as well as others. My curiosity allowed me to see the possibility of unmet expectations. I moved out of the need for anything fair and just and into compassion and a resolution to remain authentic in my leadership style. All of these thoughts were generated, noticed and allowed to pass by as I sat with the moment. There was no life or death decision needing to be made and my response to this could decide if the situation was diffused or incited. The choice I made came from my value of caring for my employees and caring for myself. Engaging in a battle costs every soldier something. I determined no additional losses would be taken that day. I chose to remain grounded in who I know myself to be. The battle would end there.

Allow yourself to feel without demanding a reaction.

We cannot deny ourselves the privilege of feeling.

By allowing myself the space to feel the hurt and betrayal caused by these emails, I released any pressure or expectation I had to conjure up some brilliant response. Instead, I just felt whatever came.

You will find acceptance when you:

  • Give time and space to be alone with your feelings.

Your feelings need space to move around and not be encouraged or stifled. Take this time to notice them.

  • Identify each feeling as it shows up.

To notice each feeling, they must be identified for who they are and what they do for you. Each feeling has its own purpose as it seeks to keep you safe from further harm.

  • Recognize where the feeling comes from.

Finding the origin of the feeling brings such insight into hurtful experiences. It is there that you realize the present state is only a reminder of a past hurt.

  • Be open and non-judgmental toward yourself during this time.

Don’t bat away the feelings as if they are an annoying fly. Allow them to be present with you without any judgment toward them or yourself. With acknowledgment, your feelings will be soothed.

Give yourself space and time to think.

Time to think will generate possibilities.

After acknowledging my feelings about the situation, I was able to move into a place of contemplation without judgment or demands.

Clarity of thought is granted when you:

  • Give yourself time and space to be curious.

Venting about problems does not generate curiosity. Curiosity is born when you take the time to ask questions.

  • Consider how this impacts you.

Oftentimes, we carry offense in the moment without realizing the offense we are carrying has more impact than the event itself.

  • Consider how this impacts others.

When thinking about the impact, bring to mind what is immediate and what is more long-term.

  • Consider any expectations you had which were not met.

Our disappointment is typically found when our expectations are unmet. Thinking of this will help you see why you are in a state of distress.

Your thoughts will lead you to an authentic response.

Develop your plan.

Your values will guide the decisions you make.

My response to this situation was mindfully organized due to the time I had given myself to experience the emotions and to consider what questions I would like answered. The steps below took me out of a mindset of justice or retribution and put me into the mindset of curiosity and understanding.

  • Formulate the questions which need to be answered by yourself.

There will be questions that only you can answer. These questions assist you as you develop a plan of response.

  • Identify what you would like to know from others.

There is always missing information that others can provide. This information is not always accessible.

  • Accept what you may never know.

You must accept that there will be missing information. Your acceptance of this will settle you and help you formulate a response which is sourced from what you do know.

  • Ensure your chosen response aligns with your values.

As you prepare a response, consider how it aligns with your values. Move away from anything which produces internal conflict.

  • Your responses will reflect who you are.

The development of your thoughts will be a reflection of your authenticity.

Responses which reflect who you are must be generated through a mindset of curiosity and compassion.

Personal criticism of my leadership produced confusion and hurt. By taking time and space to generate a response, I found curiosity and compassion.

The steps below will allow you to find your own authenticity:

  • Allow yourself to feel without demanding a reaction.

  • Give yourself space and time to think.

  • Develop your plan.

You will learn how to think as your authentic self.

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