Guilt. You’ve used it. You’ve felt it. You’ve given it.
There are many things that I have learned in my lifestyle as a youth worker, but one that stands out is how I have used guilt as a tool to succeed and also to fail. As a young supervisor, I learned to lead by guilt. It was disguised under the umbrella of relationship building, but it was still good ol’ guilt. Perhaps it was my up bringing or society or my mentors, regardless, I knew using guilt was a tactic definitely learned. I would ask my team leaders to fulfill their employee requirements as a ‘favor to me’.
If that didn’t work, I would tell them, ‘Do it for the kids! If you don’t do it, they will miss out.” As opposed to coaching and listening emphatically, I played on my strength of likability to get things done. The sad part is that it worked and my team ran a very successful academic enrichment program for a few years.
It became habitual to operate in a guilty manner and things began to fall apart.
Meetings became emotional and conversations were about entitlement and resentment. It was until we had a leader that asked us, “Why are you here?” At that moment, I realized that I had been neglecting one important person in this journey to change the world – me. I had forgotten, that I had joined the youth work field to empower human beings to manifest the best version of themselves that they had ever imagined. By using guilt, toward my staff and myself, I was disowning my own belief system.
I felt guilty that they had to work/serve, go to school and provide for their families, instead of admiring them and supporting them to make it all happen. It didn’t help that I would get pleasure from their gratitude at that moment, but it was never sustainable. It was always a bandaid until the next crisis.
It took mentors, a tribe and the love of learning to get me to a vulnerable place where I can answer, “Why are you here?” with authenticity. I share this lesson learned with you because there’s no shame in my experience and I still come across leaders that can’t kick the ‘guilty pleasure’. I still work hard at making sure my relationships are authentic and empowering and I know you do too.
Here are a few books that have helped me on kicking the ‘guilty’ pleasure:
The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John C. Maxwell
For breakfast I had a handful of cashews and a kava kava hot tea.
Author Profile: @csecada