Last Friday we started our monthly manager's team meeting as usual, with prayer. As the person leading that part of the meeting asked for requests, I hesitated for a moment, then put up my hand.
I explained to those on my team that didn't know, that I had stepped into the role of acting vice chair on a committee that I find intimidating (a role I have studiously avoided for many years)--and that in that role I was to represent the chair at a regional meeting that was going to be way out of my comfort zone. I confessed my nervousness and sense of inadequacy, while wondering if doing so was making me seem weak in their eyes. I did it anyway, because I needed prayer and because it was the truth after all.
On Sunday evening, at our Catalyst leadership development meeting we watched a half hour session by Patrick Lencioni on vulnerability. It was so good. Afterwards we all shared our own challenges. One person struggled with telling others the "kind truth." I shared my fear of embarrassment and fear of asking dumb questions. Two other people shared their fear of embarrassment and I would never have guessed they ever felt that way, in a million years! The effect that hearing other's vulnerability had on me was paradoxical. I felt a great tenderness towards both of them.
Yesterday was the meeting I had dreaded. I was so nervous that I did deep breathing on the drive to the five hour meeting to help calm my beating heart and the butterflies in my stomach. One of my team had advised me with a smile, to "power dress." I laughed at that because I might have done that years ago! But this time I just dressed neatly and professionally, and forgot about the "power" part.
I walked into the room and everyone was so nice! People I hadn't seen for a while walked over and warmly welcomed me. The chair of the committee, a woman who is a veteran, having held varied roles of influence in our field over the years; came put over, put her hand on my shoulder and asked how I was.
The meeting was interesting all the way through and I found that I was actually enjoying it. I presented my brief report on behalf of the committee I represented and heard myself sounding confident and relaxed.
I asked a "dumb question" accidentally, and no one said, "That's a dumb question!" but answered it respectfully. I didn't melt.
At the end of the meeting as I chatted with someone before leaving, I confessed that I had felt nervous and intimidated before the meeting. He looked at me in puzzlement as if wondering what there could possibly be to feel intimidated by. I realized that my fear had gone away. I had been held in bondage by a fantasy.
This morning I wrote an email to my team to thank them for their prayers and to update them on the meeting. I told them that I had entered my personal "danger zone" and with God's help and their prayers, I had been victorious. I said that I knew they all had been moving out of their comfort zones lately and were facing new challenges that would stretch them; that I was with them in these challenges
More than one email came back thanking me for my transparency, and saying that they had "fronts" they hide behind, but underneath they have insecurities and often feel inadequate.
My area of weakness turned out to be used to bind us all together more closely and to open up an opportunity for God to be my strength.