A lesson from last year: just because you can be a leader, just because you own a business, just because you have one good idea, or a string of good ideas, and just because your title has the word “executive” in it — you do not have to enjoy being a boss. You do not have to listen to entrepreneurial podcasts, attend management retreats, wear a black blazer and tuck stacks of business cards between the pages of Girl Boss.
You can, if you’d like. There was a time when I loved a good business book read, when I would curl up on the couch in the sunniest spot and devour the words of Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Stephen Covey. Where I would learn a little about business and a lot about people, and a good success story would make my pace quicken, my pupils dilate.
And now, for whatever reason, I am not that way. I have learned that there is a difference between being good at what you do and being good at managing those who do what you do, and I fall swiftly in the former camp.
When I founded Clementine Daily a few years ago, the first position I hired was someone to manage the whole shebang. She is amazing, an incredible leader – and still, it was a hard for me to transition from a lone freelancer – just me in the corner coffee shop – to having the final say for a team of ten. To calling the shots. To making the plans. I just didn’t love the pressure of it all.
I am rambling.
It is hard to talk about female leadership now without entering a feminist conversation, without tiptoeing around words like empowerment or equality, without taking a stance with our feet planted firmly, lips pursed.
I don’t particularly enjoy planted feet.
And so, I will say this: being a boss didn’t work for me. I preferred something else, my priorities had shifted, and on most days, they centered around Itsy Bitsy Spider tunes, afternoons in the park, pork in the crock pot – all of which I found counter-intuitive to leading a team of writers in every major city in the U.S.
It’s just, you go through life thinking that if you can do something great, more of that would be better. Why not make it bigger, why not start something new, why not found an entire movement – think big, dream always!?
It’s true, but wasn’t true for me.
Sometimes, building an empire with you as the foundation leaves quite a lot of bricks on your back.
Today, my think big, dream always has changed, and it now calls for stillness, quiet. It’s learning how to serve with my head down, rather than lead with my shoulders high. It’s making room for grace, the kind that cannot be offered as an addendum to yesterday’s contract.
And so, ladies. You don’t have to be a boss. You don’t have to build up, expand, grow, increase. You can simply be what you are, what you know, what you enjoy. Sometimes that’s leaning in – to an empire, to a tower, to a mahogany desk.
Other times, it’s leaning against the pantry door, wondering what’s for dinner.