Leaders Must Forgive Themselves

As a leader, you have much to consider on a day to day basis.  The responsibility that you have can be very challenging and sometimes overwhelming. You have to be in a place within yourself that allows you to be the very best person you can be for you and your followers.  Often times the guilt and transgressions of your past is still, to this very day, a hinderance in your life and a deterrent from you being your absolute best in the areas of leadership that you’ve been entrusted.  To remove this cloud of doubt, or for many, an anchor or anvil, you have to forgive yourself of your past failures, faults, and poor decisions.  I’ve been told this for years, but never really knew how to actually do it, until I recently got an epiphany that I want to share with you.

I know that I have to forgive others and myself, but something was missing in my efforts to forgive.  I believe my definition of forgiveness was all wrong.  See, I use to believe that when I was extended forgiveness or repaid the favor of forgiveness, that which required the forgiveness was completely forgotten, like it never happened.  This belief suggested that the action and the by products of the action (usually some sort of pain) immediately vanished  with the words, “I forgive you”.  This belief suggested that once the action had vanished, I should treat, be treated, trust and be trusted like nothing had ever happened.  This is where I got stuck and often times felt conflicted.  That’s because when we fail, or make bad decisions, consequences come with the failure and bad decisions, and consequences happen and do not disappear.  By all means, I must still deal with the consequences of being a bone head and doing bone head things, even in the midst of forgiveness.

I got an epiphany that forgiveness is really an invitation to start over and regain trust, and that it’s not an eraser, it’s a reset button.  Forgiveness allows you to remain in the picture and start over with the knowledge and experience of messing up.  Forgiveness keeps you from being banished to a place, never to be seen again, and is the epitome of a do-over.  So in order for me to forgive myself, I first acknowledge to myself what I did wrong and I then say to myself, “self, I forgive you, and I grant you an invitation to do the right things, and regain trust in myself”. Next you have to fully accept the invitation from yourself.  Next,  you have to focus your thoughts, actions and attention on what you are going to do right and not what you did wrong.  Look through the windshield and not the rear view mirror.  When you focus your thoughts on a more fruitful future, your actions follow suit.

The cloud of guilt dissipates and you can be a better you and ultimately better for those who count on you.  Lastly, I don’t believe any of this is possible without compassion.  If you do not have compassion for others, I don’t believe you can have compassion for yourself.  So, extend the invitation of forgiveness as often as you can for others, then surely you’ll be able to extend the same invitation to yourself.  I send you blessings.

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