I recently led a Dare to Lead™ Retreat with a group of leaders in the Olympic Mountain Range. During our 2 days together, we used the Dare to Lead principles as well as the power of nature and movement to support our learning, growth and embodiment of becoming Braver Leaders.
During an afternoon break, we walked down to the water so we could replenish our mind, body and souls with the beauty that surrounded us. As we stood on the docks discussing our day, I jokingly proclaimed, “We are not leaving, until I can manifest us seeing the mountains.” Considering the sky was nothing but clouds for as far as our eyes could see, we all laughed and got back to business.
And yet… a few minutes later, I glanced up and could see what looked like the tip of a snow-covered mountain. We stood in awe and wonder as the clouds gently floated away revealing more and more of the majestic, mystical and miraculous mountain that stood before us.
It was as if she not only wanted to be seen but needed us to see her. It was a visual invitation to reveal more and to truly be seen. As the clouds continued to magically move before us, one of the women whispered, “The clouds are like our armor. They are coming down so we can truly see the beauty of the mountain”.
Dare to Lead teaches that it is not fear that gets in our way of us being brave, it’s armor. We tend to armor up when we begin to feel shame or vulnerable. Shame drives two messages: “I’m not enough” or “Who do I think I am?”. We use armor to protect ourselves.
We want protection from being hurt, from being misunderstood or from being seen in a way that would make us feel unworthy of love, belonging or connection. And let’s be real, who wouldn’t want to protect themselves from those painful things?
But here’s the deal; when we choose to “armor up” it may feel like we are protecting ourselves, but it also prevents us from being seen. And being seen for who we truly are… the real us. The authentic us.
And as leaders, we need to be seen. We need to create the space for others to be seen. We need people to bring their full and brilliant selves to work.
Armor protects but it also prevents. Armor prevents connection. Armor prevents innovation. Armor prevents creativity. Armor prevents growth. And as a leader, I’m guessing you need and want all of these things for yourself and for the people you lead.
It takes courage to drop our armor and to allow ourselves to be seen. But the good news is… courage lives and exists within each of us.
And just like the mountain, it’s always there.
Even if we can’t see it or access it on some days… we can trust that it’s there.
And when we have the courage to push away our own “clouds,” we can bravely stand in reverence and humbly bow to the magnificence of what is revealed by allowing ourselves to be seen.