Understanding & Transforming Flaws To Become a Better Leader

Last Updated: November 16, 2020

What would you say if I suggested you spend more time with your flaws? Understanding them. Embracing them. Loving them.  

Some people would say “what flaws?” Others might think I am spending too much time alone on Zoom. Others might say “ok” because they are getting sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Flaws Fuel Fearlessness

People who are honest about their flaws are my heroes. Honestly. And I am grateful I have so many heroes in a world where I know others are disappointed by theirs.

So here is something to consider: it is not that heroes don’t have flaws.  They have them and transform them. They share their stories of failure. They talk about how they have done damage to themselves and others, ignoring the guideposts that lead to serenity for far too long. They deal with their Fear which in my book means…

Face Everything And Rise.

My heroes are honest, open, willing … not perfect. And they wear their courage and wisdom, born of some super-sized mistakes, really well.

I embarked on an inventory of my flaws just last weekend. Again. When I met my son and some of his buddies for dinner that night we chatted about that process. They asked me how it was going. I said, “Brutal. And .. it feels honest, clean, and like I am not afraid to do hard things.”

Yesterday I was chatting with an executive. He has held quite a few C-level positions in various organizations. For years he has recognized that one of his flaws is to numb himself out with a host of tactics. It could be one more drink. It could be choosing not to talk about his feelings. It could be picking denial over willingness: putting up walls, checking out. Nothing ever got out of hand but nothing really helped, either.

And now he is tired and depleted. His team feels under siege. He is doing everything he can to lift himself up, rise the spirits of others. And sometimes, despite best efforts, it feels like pushing water up the damn hill. This is one hard season.

And isn’t it true, that we all have been there? Wanting to pull the covers over our heads, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, scream when we get to our tipping point, lash out in ugliness when confronted, withhold and give the silent treatment, or find something else that soothes us into thinking there is no problem … with us.

We humans have created a veritable cornucopia of denial tactics. You truly have to marvel at the lengths to which we go to avoid dealing with the vice-grip our flaws can have on us.

And yet Alleluia ….

My client, the executive I chatted with yesterday, is not willing to go back into denial because he realized that flaw was not without cost. It kept him distanced, stressed, and physically depleted. It felt protective but it was destructive … to him, to those who loved him, and to his team and colleagues.

So now he has an exercise routine, an honest way of talking about his stress levels with his trusted tribe, and a built-in check-in process that encourages him to acknowledge when he wants to withdraw. As a result of being honest about the root of his flaws, he shows up with tremendous empathy for others.

He has a built in spidy sense. He is one of my heroes. He needs a cape.

Why Flaws Are My Jam

I am drawn to flaws – mine and others. They do not get the billing they deserve. Talking about strengths is easy and I also love strengths: long may they live because we are amazingly created with so many crazy-and-wild-and-fabulous gifts.

However, flaws are really intriguing to me. Want to talk about your flaws? I will take mine out too and we can talk late into the night, cozy and happy, eating comfort food. I love them because buried in our flaws is the key: the key to self-discovery, true inner knowledge, and freedom. Flaws shine light on our insecurities, wounds, and fears; we develop flaws to protect ourselves. We are clever … and scared. Our flaws lead us right into the center of ourselves so we can connect more deeply with all of who we are. And we need to do this so we can accept the entirety of our story instead of running from our whole truth and doing ongoing damage.

People like a good story about those who rise up. We like those who overcome and so this is what we need: we need a Flaw Jam. Permission to bring those babies out to the light of the day and not cover them up. Circle-ups about Flaws so we can encourage each other by saying “Really? Why are you hiding that? We have all seen it and love you anyway … and you are not the only one.”

Confront and acknowledge your fears. No one is that unique: our flaws flow when we are stressed, insecure, hustling for approval and hoping no one sees the whole truth of who we are. Find ways to talk about your flaws, claim them, transform them and then you, too, can wear a cape.Truly. Others will seek you out, want to know how you did it, seek your wisdom and compassion.

Connect With Your Flaws

We need Connected Leaders who understand and transform the fears and flaws holding them back. Leaders who see their flaws as important data are more trustworthy, easier to be around, and tons more honest about just about everything, including themselves.

About my client who is showing up instead of shutting down. His is an inspiring tale. Because he is more open about his flaws, they no longer show up as frequently. His story rings true because those of us who love a good Flaw Jam have come to know these truths:

  • Flaws are just fears run amok
  • Flaws stem from wounds; they need some TLC
  • Being honest about flaws and working to transform them, brings people closer to us

When we channel the power of connection, our flaws take their rightful place. They are no longer clamoring for attention like a toddler who is in pain; rather they sit quietly in the background reminding us of where we have been, the power of our story, and how quieting the power we once gave our flaws, can inspire those around us to join us at the Flaw Jam. The idea is not to feed the flaws but to listen to their message, pull on the courage it takes to own those babies, love them, and thank them for the message.

Onward! Happy, joyous, and free.

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