Grounded Leaders Ask Questions

I was pissed.

It was better suited as a journal entry, but I ripped off about 400 angry words, disguised as a coaching email to a colleague.

We have to get better, you have to be better.

This is unacceptable.

How did this happen! (declared and demanded, not asked with any curiosity)

I was hellbent to send the email before 5pm, in order for this drama grenade to invade the recipient’s inbox during the business day.

I unapologetically love Taylor Swift. I love Bon Iver equally so.

In a song they’ve released recently called Renegade, she has this amazing lyric…

“Are you really going to…let all your damage damage me, carry your baggage up my street?”

That’s exactly what I was doing. Letting my own drama and damage, damage this person. And hauling way more than my carryon luggage up their street, with broken ass wheels and zippers, littering unfolded clothes all over the pavement.

I was about to hit send. When something in me whispered.

“Walk away. Ask someone to read it first.”

I scrambled to find Brooke, hoping she’d validate my nonsense and give me the green light to tirade.

Not home.

So I texted a mentor and friend.

“Will you read over this email I’m sending before 5pm…”

It was like 4:51.

“Umm, sure, I can take a quick look, what’s up?”

Copy, paste.

The waiting for the . . . to emerge felt like torture. They never came.

He called instead. After 5pm.

“Hey, what do you think?”

I’m sure my desperation smelled peachy.

“Well, I have some questions…”

He went into about 5 of them, and I’m sure he had a dozen more.

“Have you re-read this? Out loud? What are you hoping to accomplish? What do you imagine the individual reading this will experience? After a good night’s sleep tonight, do you think you’d send this in the same manner tomorrow morning?”

That email is literally still in my drafts, way more than a year later. Unsent.

This same friend, in a different setting, said “grounded leaders ask far more questions than they declare answers.”

That’ll preach.

It’s exactly what he did to me. Helping me self-realize my own baggage-flinging episode. Walking me back to myself. Illuminating my own self-discovery towards a healthier version of who I desperately desire.

Asking pointed, gentle, direct, loving, bold, fearless, trust-building questions, aimed at helping me see.

Where in your own leadership are you quick to offer answers? Quick to declare? Quick to demand?

Where in your spirit is the default towards periods and exclamation points instead of curiosity and question marks?

What gets solved, developed, and matured in the longterm when you become the answer man or woman instead of the grounded, question asker?

How would your life, work, and mental health be stronger if you brought a posture of humility and curiosity instead of baggage-dragging demanding?

Would Taylor have any more songs to write if we operated in this manner more often?

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