Click here for some forced inspiration!

Maria Versteeg

The idea of leadership that I signed up for is one of hospitality, connection, and love. And I just can’t help but ask… Why does this idea of leadership often leave me feeling alone, hurt, and tired?

Leadership has so much to do with being present and paying attention to the world around you, and yet, there never seems to be a day that goes by without hearing about a hurricane, an enraging policy change, or even a mass shooting. Every day I am reminded that being fully awake in the spaces around me is opening myself up to a literal world of pain and human suffering.

I’m supposed to follow the joy, but the hurt pulls so forcefully.

So, what do I do?

Well, like any intensely emotional human does, I run straight for Brené Brown.

Her book, Daring Greatly, has been my lighthouse during this never-ending storm of 2016 and 2017.

In Daring Greatly, she begins by pulling inspiration from Theodore Roosevelt. He once spoke at an event about the fatigue that comes from engaging with the constant onslaught of human distress, saying:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Now, that sounds nice, but what does it mean?

It means that leadership and engaging with authenticity is lonely, uncomfortable, and exhausting. Leaning into discomfort is going to leave you vulnerable to criticism, pain and hurt. (And worst of all, sweat.)

I also come to realize that I am the critic, too. I am the one to points out how someone stumbles, or how they could be better. I do this to myself constantly.

So, maybe I need to learn to give myself grace, and let myself fail without counting it as a defeat. Maybe I need to give others the grace to fail, too. Because our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

So, is leadership leaving you feeling beaten up, lonely, or hurt? That’s okay, it does that to me too.

The only thing we can do to combat those feelings, is to do more leadership.

So, self-care greatly, empathize with others greatly, and love greatly. In doing that, maybe we can all heal before heading back into the arena.

Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. It’s daring greatly.

My name is Maria and I love pickles and naps. I am a Junior studying Psychology and am consistently running 3 minutes behind schedule.