At my house ‘letting your crazy out’ is a topic of conversation that we have, usually when my kids are evaluating new relationships, and often in a dating situation. Because relationships are…as you’ve likely noticed by now important to me, they are essential in my family.
I’ve tried to teach my children how to evaluate and make changes when making decisions in their personal relationships. This is applicable to friendships, dating, marriage, and work relationships. In dating relationships, we often refer to “the circle.” Who is in it and who is not. The circle is a metaphor for the relationship and when considering whether or not to proceed (especially in dating and courting), I often ask them, “Who is in the circle?” Of course if the answer is, “I am Mom,” then there are considerations to be made.
The point is, regardless of the type of relationships we have, we are all people, flawed, warty, and quirky. However, few of us are confident enough to “put it all out there” from the beginning. At a new job we might hold back and stay on the fringes as we evaluate who we are working with and even whether or not they are “safe”. Eventually though, most of us loosen up a bit and let down our guard to the point at which we blend in while still hold back from being “all in”.
In building and nurturing relationships, I realize that it is likely that few of us show and tell all, from day one. However, relationships are built on a progression of authentic interactions. While trying to be “acceptable” we put our best foot forward and slowly over time we pull it back in a bit. By pulling back our “best foot,” a void is created. And you guessed it, a little bit of your crazy moves in to fill the void. Likely, the relationships you’ve been working on at that point are important enough to you, or necessary in your job, that those who see little bits of your crazy will accept your crazy and move forward in the relationship. I realize these are gross generalizations, but stay with me.
As leaders, we wish we were the best leaders and all of our followers loved our style, our personality, our leadership etc. If we don’t wish some of those things, we are likely not in the right profession. Leadership is about leading and without followers there is nobody to lead. Profound, right?
Let’s for a moment agree that as leaders we do want followers who want to follow us. They value our style and abilities and work hard for us. How can we nurture those people? Here is the five-dollar word for the day, “AUTHENTIC”. We must let them know who we are. Leaders must nurture their followers, get to know them, understand them, empower them and essentially love them. This is the foundation of Servant Leadership. As we invest in relationships we peel back the layers and get to know our fellows and followers more intimately. When we invest enough to know something about their home lives, their preferences, and their history and belief systems, we have begun. However, we too must shed some layers of the proverbial onion. Being willing to be vulnerable, authentic and available is essential. Trust is the mechanism in our relationships that allow us to “let some of our crazy out”.
Allow me to add a disclaimer here. This entire post assumes that I am not talking about “crazy like a mad man”, or “crazy like an abusive person”. I’m talking about the quirkiness that begins to show through that makes us individual. I’m referring to things like well… people not leaning on your desk or sitting in your chair. I’m thinking, “crazy like our reaction when someone is slightly late to a meeting, or our reaction when someone doesn’t respect that we prefer they ‘knock before entering’. I know, I know, these are considered “givens” or “manners” or even “common courtesy”. The point is this. Our realness comes out along with our crazy, no matter how we try to keep it in. It is who we are as human beings.
As we nurture and grow relationships as a leader or a follower, remember that transparency can be a gift. Being who we are requires that we are authentic enough to “let our crazy out”.