Pleasing vs. Service

October 23, 2015 / Leadership
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BLH Graphic.001The truth finally came out.
Jason confessed:

“Karen lies to me!”

“Whenever she thinks she might get in trouble or get caught, she covers it up!”

Jason is a proud man, former head of the Banking Commission, President of a Bank and now extremely successful small business owner with profitable revenues in the millions after just a short 2 years in business. It was excruciating to admit that his own daughter lacked integrity as that is one of his absolutely inviolable core values.

The very first thing Jason worked on when we started was what to do with employees who are dishonest. It became evident very quickly that even the smallest of white lies is unacceptable for Jason. Hence, he put in place an explicit policy that deceit of any kind is not tolerated.

The result was a much needed cleansing of his operation.

Last weekend was the first weekend of Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. It is the biggest event in the city every year, attended by over 100,000 people. It’s a weekend in which, the city’s businesses either step up and do incredibly well, or they flop. Balloon Fiesta had never been Jason’s biggest weekend before this year – but they were ready this time around. His team was working together, the poor performers were out, and the kitchen was running more efficiently than ever. He had only one outlier. He sadly admitted it was his own daughter.

After Jason shared with me how many times Karen had lied; That she even had stolen; and how she always got out of it using charm. I thought grimly of my own son who went through a LONG period of trouble, characterized by lies and deceit too.

My heart ached for him as I remembered how conflicted I felt when faced with setting meaningful boundaries for my son, while loving him every step of the way. In the end, I realized that  the highest form of service (and therefore love) that I could offer my child was holding him accountable. It was powerful service to care enough about him, and his life, to mean what I say, and follow through. My son would not be allowed to continue living in my home if he crossed those lines. I explained to him that it was his life, and his responsibility to choose how to live it. Likewise, it was my home, and my responsibility to choose what/who I would allow in it. I told him that I love him now, and always would. I said, I would like nothing more than to have him with me but that he would have to observe my four bottom line rules. The first of these four rules is: illegal activity is not tolerated by people who live in my home. My son, at first, announced that he would move out, as he didn’t share my values. I said, ok.

He spent just 3 days living with his dad when he realized that he would prefer to make a different choice. I was prepared for him to never come home – and that hurt intensely. Then again, it hurt a lot less than to feel like I was tolerating behavior that is out of my integrity. It has been said, “You get what you tolerate.”

Jason’s daughter was already older and no longer living with him. Still – there are some parallels. I shared my experience with Jason and then I asked him:

“Jason, if Karen was not your own daughter, would she still be working for you?”

He is a smart man. He said, “I’ve already asked myself that question. And the answer is absolutely not.”

I could see that he was pained over this. He laid out for me all his reasons, “she’ll inherit the business anyway,” chief among them. When I asked him why she HAD to inherit – he seemed to see that there were possibilities he hadn’t thought of.

We returned to the Bringing Leadership Home model:

Was he choosing out of love or fear? Was he telling himself the truth? or was he hiding? Was he fully and fiercely owning his own choices? or was he in blame?

In the end, Jason figured out the sticky point for him here was on the Truth-Hiding axis. When he lifted the veil, he could no longer ‘un-know’ the truth that Karen was not being honest. Nor could he ignore that Karen’s dishonesty at work was tainting his credibility with his other employees. After all, he said he wouldn’t tolerate dishonesty from anyone. Her behavior was making accountability impossible! The truth was that he felt powerless to do anything about it.

Jason saw that he truly did have choices – and like in the story from Boundaries for Leaders – he had to wear two hats: dad and boss.

After lifting the lever higher toward truth, he took fierce ownership of his responsibility in his own business. Still, there was pain.

He feared he was betraying his love for his daughter.

Truly Karen is a sweet young woman, and dear. Jason recognized that her deceitful habits were born out of fear of his disapproval. Jason recognized that her patterns were, at least in part, in response to how he had been as a father.

“Yes, Jason – I get it. There is nothing more poignant than recognizing how our own missteps have impacted our children.”

A wonderful mentor of mine, Steve Chandler, who raised four kids on his own, once told me that all my missteps serve my children in the end. Steve said my mistakes give them clarity about what they do, and do not, want to do as adults creating their own lives.

Byron Katie – who admits to abusing her children with raging and screaming – is grateful that she behaved that way. Her children now have children of their own. They absolutely do not yell and rage at their children. They learned through the experience.

“So Jason, now that Karen is 26 years old – How can you be of service to her? How can you truly love her powerfully, rather than seeking to please her?”

Jason said, “I suppose, I’ve got to stand my ground and hold her accountable.”

That’s bringing leadership home.

 

In closing:

Where might you be living outside of your integrity?

What is the impact for you?

 

To your continued Amazingness,

 

Lisa

 

© 2015 Focused Leadership Consulting and Lisa E. Hale, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.