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  • Writer's pictureStephen

WITHness and Permission

For this week's message, I want to pick up on one more idea related to the concept of WITHness (for the previous messages you can use these links: WITHness and The Intentionality of WITHness).

There is a tension that you may have felt as you read last week's message, especially as I shared that leaders are willing to sacrifice their own personal feelings and reactions for the good of the whole. It may have seemed like I was saying we need to just ignore how we are feeling, but I want to remind you I also shared that we do this "at times."  There is a time and a place for making sacrifices AND there is a time and place where it is important for us to share openly and transparently about how we are feeling, or about what our raw reactions may be to a situation.  In other words, there is a tension that exists between being intentional about our choices with our words and our reactions, AND also giving ourselves permission to be real with ourselves and others.  This is not an either/or reality. It's both/and.  As we become more aware of the impact we have on the people and spaces around us, we have to work at balancing our impact between sacrifice and permissioning. 

Allow me to illustrate using another story. I had a situation recently where someone I was supervising was making decisions that were not being helpful to the overall team and the goal we were working toward.  Their behavior was very frustrating to me, especially since they had been involved in this work for some time and I didn't think I needed to be coaching them on the basics of what they were doing! I called the person over, and in the moment allowed my frustration to be known to them about something specific that was not being done in that exact moment which needed to be addressed. There is no doubt they knew I was very frustrated! After those immediate tasks were safely completed and we had a few more moments to actually talk, I took them aside and better explained myself and my actions.  I also expressed that if they thought I spoke to them too strongly in the moment, I was sorry for the way in which I spoke to them, while I was also still standing firm in my frustration for the situation. I was aware that both my tone and reaction in the moment had an impact, AND it was still alright for me to be frustrated with the situation and their behaviors.

This is part of the balance as we navigate WITHness - we continue to learn how to live in the tension and balance between being highly intentional, sometimes to the point of self-sacrifice, AND giving permission for our own emotions and reactions to be real.  And let me just add that the greatest leaders I have ever worked with were willing to see this as an ongoing learning process, acknowledging that they didn't always get that balance right, and owning up to it when they didn't!

How are you navigating the balance between the sacrifices which are sometimes necessary for being highly intentional about our impact, AND being willing to give ourselves permission for being real and authentic? Which one comes more naturally to you, sacrificing yourself or permissioning yourself? How could you live more in the balance and tension of the BOTH/AND vs the either/or?

Here's to being intentional AND giving ourselves Permission as we live into our WITHness!

Be Well,


Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center.  We specialize in professional coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you!  Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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