Crazy, but there is much truth to this changing your outlook. I am an ‘optimistic realist’, which is another way of saying I easily fall into a pattern of clarifying negative outcomes after the idea process has begun. During burnout and times of intense stress people are easily confused by my withdrawal and slip from idea generation to dismantling everything before it starts.

I can go there, but I do not choose to. That is part of keeping my personal gauges in check, just like we all need to.

Last week I had another awesome opportunity to speak into the lives of a group of young people at camp. As usual, I come away feeling blessed, tired, and renewed…and of course, missing the people I got to know for a short while. Taking a moment to contemplate my time there, I was once again impressed by the work of young leaders in action. Given the safe space to flourish, these leaders definitely did. By Monday night I realized I was by far the oldest person in the room. But I was also the one most needing guidance as these young leaders brought every element of camp to life.

The word that stood out to me was one that has been on my mind, and connects to that first paragraph above: Authenticity. One of the aspects of young leaders that grips me every time I enter their space is how high authenticity is held and sought in the people around them. This is something that is lost in any group, regardless of age, but in a space where authentic relationships are displayed and encouraged it is much more difficult to lose.

It is a key value that everyone seeks in all areas of life. There is no exception in any social circle. We want people to be authentic with us, and they expect the same from us. Yes, I have written about this before, and you can find that here (Burnout in Leadership…and Life) Looking back at some of my notes on authenticity I drew 3 short statements that I still feel are true for what happens in our interactions:

“Fear and Fail. Authenticity is not tried and true unless we have spent some time on our knees learning.”
Regardless of circumstances, we create a place where we may fear failure, but it is how we learn.
“Visibility does not determine your value. Regardless of who sees you, or when, your value is intrinsic and not momentary.”
No matter the position, or how behind the scenes we might be, we hold an important and valued place in the community.
“Authenticity is a personal spectrum, so it is really up to the individual. We all lie. It’s a safety mechanism to protect us in one way or another. So how do we choose not to?”
It is personal. Each individual must decide to trust and risk together.

 

A community based on authenticity is far less likely to fall into firefighting and guardedness. In fact, it produces the opposite. It becomes a safe place to try.

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