Her name was Megan and as soon as she said it my heart sank a little.
She was present during the 90 minute keynote for leaders that I did recently in Vancouver, BC. At the reception afterward Megan shared with me how much my song Nice for a Living had moved her. In fact she said it moved her so much she had to ‘turn off her heart’ in order to keep her composure during the remainder of the program.
That’s when my heart sank a little.
“You turned off your heart?” I asked. “That makes me so sad.”
She said she had to, she didn’t want her colleagues to see her getting emotional. She told me she ‘turns off her heart’ often at work because she doesn’t want to be seen as weak – especially in her male dominated workplace, especially as a leader.
It was such a remarkable visual – ‘turning off your heart’, can’t you just picture it?
As a highly sensitive person and having been a healthcare professional for much of my career, I totally get the whole emotional drama Megan was referring to. When a tear leaks out of the corner of my eye I feel like I appear weaker than I am. I try to will the tears not to come, but I am not as strong as Megan – they come anyway. Sometimes I am mad at myself and I want to shout to the people around – really I got this, I’m not as shaken up as I seem!
I think about the 200+ leaders that I spoke to that day, we talked about how important it is to be real and authentic and genuine in the workplace and at home. I wonder how we can truly be real, authentic and genuine if we turn off our hearts, if we don’t allow people to see the real us?
Instead of turning off her heart, I asked Megan if she could maybe just turn down her heart a little.
What it would be like if we showed a little bit of vulnerability, if we asked for help, if we let our imperfection be seen every once in a while?
I can’t help but think that would help us connect to people better, and that it would allow us to be more real, more genuine and more authentic. Would it give others ‘permission’ to turn their hearts on a bit, to be a little more vulnerable, authentic, real and genuine?
I sure don’t have all the answers, but I think it’s a conversation that is important to continue.