If you were to search online for ‘top leadership skills’ your query would return results such as: “Top 10 Leadership Qualities That Make Good Leaders”, or “21 Most Compelling Qualities of Great Leaders”. These lists include qualities such as confidence, inspiring others, passion, vision, being resilient, high emotional intelligence, empathy, and humility among many others.
The level to which we’ve grown each of these qualities is underpinned by the understanding (or lack thereof) that we each have of our own self-acceptance, feelings of self-worth, and level of self-compassion that we have developed. Brené Brown says it best in her NYT bestselling novel Rising Strong: “When we practice self-compassion, we are compassionate towards others. Self-righteousness is just the armor of self-loathing.”
By working on self-acceptance, and being compassionate with ourselves when we have fallen short of our own expectations, or are struggling with feelings of inadequacy, it allows us to do the same for others. If we don’t know how to respect ourselves in our times of struggle-when we are angry, scared, confused, or tired-how can we have respect and compassion for anyone else struggling through these same issues?
A healthy dose of compassion and self-acceptance is the keystone for nearly every single great leadership quality mentioned (and not mentioned) above.
When we are compassionate with ourselves we are able to admit our mistakes, seek help, and apologize first. Do these skills sound inspiring to you? I hope so because they certainly inspire me! I also believe these skills help us learn to be resilient, and help to build confidence in our self-worth. Learning self-compassion allows us to be more empathetic to others, and perhaps most importantly, allows us to remove the self-righteous armor that we have used as protection against self-loathing for far too long.
Dropping the armor that we have carried with us through years of self-depreciating battles takes courage, faith, and a belief that being vulnerable-both with ourselves and with others-is the only true way to love and serve.
Only from this vulnerable place can we define our true vision, passion, and purpose for living. Consequently, when we share our true vision, passion, and purpose with others they will be inspired because they will know that we are honoring our true self. After all, what could be more inspiring than that?
Does vulnerability seem too great a price to pay? Does it seem weak to you? Think about a time when you’ve witnessed someone else being vulnerable. How did you perceive them? Would you describe them as being weak? In his article, “The “beautiful mess” effect: other people view our vulnerability more positively than we do” cognitive neuroscientist Christian Jarrett discusses the idea that we are more forgiving of other’s vulnerabilities than we are of our own.
Perhaps this explains why we perceive other’s vulnerability as inspiring when we perceive our own to be weakness. Even if Jarrett’s article doesn’t explain the why behind perceiving vulnerability differently it doesn’t change the fact that being able to accept your own vulnerability is a requirement for self-compassion, and having compassion for yourself is a requirement to learning how to be compassionate with others.
Do you need some help building this self-compassion skill set? Try these self-compassion practices from self-compassion.org to become more compassionate with yourself and in return more compassionate with others.