Conscious Leaders Fuck Up Sometimes

By Lisa Chandler, 16 January, 2022

I did recently. I didn't mean to. I was trying to do my best. But my initial results certainly did not reflect this.

Before I tell you about it, let’s flash back to last summer when I impulsively bought a camper and realized “wherever you go, there you are”. And instead of having the fun-loving summer I hoped for, I suffered. I was faced with my deep longing to find a loving partner and my fear about doing so. Happily, on this front, I have some joyful news to report. Through the fall, I found courage. I opened my heart (and a profile on Bumble). Miraculously, I have met a soulful man. Truly. I feel such joy. I could go on and on.

But I am going to tell you instead about how I screwed up.

I made some decisions over the holidays to keep my circle very small from Boxing Day on. COVID rates were increasing quickly and with a partially vaccinated daughter and parents waiting for their booster, it felt necessary. The broader truth though, is that, at the age of 52, I justified to myself that I deserved to have what I wanted most leading into the new year —a new beau to spend time with. 

I was single-minded and not very thoughtful about the rest. 

Sadly, I hurt people I love. 

My life’s work is about helping leaders live and lead in integrity. Integrity is all about taking 100 percent responsibility, feeling feelings, speaking candidly, and making clear agreements.

I spent a couple of weeks convincing myself I was doing all of this.  But, the hard truth is that what I was actually doing was draining myself overthinking the situation, coming up with justifications for my decisions, and apologizing in misguided ways. Essentially, I was making being “right” more important than my relationships. 

My best friend courageously pierced through my delusion with her loving candour. “These relationships matter a lot. You’re being really selfish, and you cannot pretend you’re not.” Ouch. It hurt at the time.

Despite the sting, her feedback was a great gift.

It helped me see how much these relationships matter to me. And I didn't like what I saw in the mirror on this one. I moved swiftly to make real apologies, apologies that didn’t require anything of the other people. A podcast on how to apologize and why it matters, helped me a lot (Part 1 + Part 2...both parts are important).

The people I had hurt received me with a grace I didn’t expect. I am grateful. I will do better. 

Covid, bubbles, holidays, fatigue. None of us are immune to the swirl.

But you might wonder why, as someone who sings the praises of conscious leadership, I’d reveal how messy and imperfect I sometimes am in applying these principles. I questioned myself too. Why share that I fucked up at the risk of deterring leaders interested in working with me?  I think it’s this acknowledgement that makes it worth it: 

I’m living and breathing proof that joy and pain are just the range of what it’s like to be human. Fumbling (and Bumbling) is what living is about. There are no safeguards. We are all just practicing how to love and be loved, how to fail and learn, how to lead and be led. 

I'm always learning. Sometimes painfully, sometimes delightfully. I wouldn’t want it any other way. How about you?