My mom always says that regardless of a person’s life experience or cultural background, we can all recognize the smell of feet. I add that we all have stinky feet – and sometimes other body parts, too! Leaders are certainly not above this human phenomenon. I know that my feet stink – and that yours probably do, too…especially on a sweltering summer day.
All human beings, even leaders, are rife with multiple faults and shortcomings. Take me, for example. I am a workaholic multitasker, and I make mistakes all of the time. Although I have been entrusted with great responsibilities in my leadership, and rightfully so, I am not immune to foibles resulting from poor judgment, miscommunication, or lack of information on occasion.
Think of the many ways your humanity is revealed to you on a daily basis. When you wake up, you are confronted with morning breath and ripe armpits. You trip on a crack in the concrete and fall flat on your face. You forget to put twenty-five cents in the parking meter and get a ticket for fifty dollars. You spill hot coffee all over your new outfit, and that of the coworker that you just bumped into, in your hurry to get to a very important meeting on time. You mistake Mr. Married with Five Children for Mr. Wonderful. Oops and oops again.
We are all perfectly imperfect. Me, you, our coworkers, our colleagues, our families, and people in our community. We all stink, we all make mistakes, and we are all suffering and struggling in our own way.
When your humanity is unintentionally revealed to you or exposed to others, show yourself some compassion. Let light and love fill your heart. Find humor in the situation if possible and if not, look for a lesson to discover the situation’s meaning. When others around you reveal their humanity, extend the same courtesy to them.
Feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and remorse, which tend to surface, resurface, and resurface again, are of not necessarily useful when experienced by anyone involved with your organization. These serve as a reminder, perhaps, of our humanity; however, without analysis and positive transformation, these negative feelings can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Walking the rocky road of life with great humility expedites understanding, forgiveness, and healing.