The Cost of Leadership

By Alexas Durr

It’s​ ​2 a.m.​ ​at​ ​the​ ​community​ ​desk.​ ​142957-636246762665487770-16x9

Instead​ ​of​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​the​ ​homework​ ​and​ ​projects​ ​that​ ​have upcoming​ ​deadlines,​ ​I’m​ ​switching​ ​in​ ​between​ ​different​ ​tasks​ ​on​ ​my​ ​to-do​ ​list​ ​for​ ​my organization.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​an​ ​everyday​ ​thing.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​an​ ​everyday​ ​battle​ ​within​ ​myself:​ ​decide​ ​to​ ​let​ ​go for​ ​24​ ​hours​ ​or​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​the​ ​organization’s​ ​needs.

Before​ ​stepping​ ​into​ ​this​ ​position,​ ​I​ ​made​ ​a​ ​promise​ ​to​ ​myself:​ ​never​ ​lose​ ​sight​ ​of​ ​yourself.​ ​Don’t become​ ​the​ ​organization.​ ​But​ ​overtime,​ ​that​ ​promise​ ​just​ ​became​ ​words​ ​once​ ​scribbled​ ​on​ ​a piece​ ​of​ ​paper​ ​under​ ​the​ ​loads​ ​of​ ​other​ ​things​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at.​ ​

I’m​ ​a​ ​worrier,​ ​a​ ​’low-key’​ ​perfectionist,​ ​a problem-​ ​solver.​ ​Even​ ​with​ ​other​ ​people​ ​on​ ​the​ ​team,​ ​I​ ​still​ ​worry​ ​that​ ​I​ ​might​ ​have​ ​forgotten something​ ​to​ ​tell​ ​them​ ​or​ ​that​ ​I​ ​am​ ​going​ ​to​ ​forget​ ​a​ ​deadline.​ ​I​ ​start​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​guilty​ ​for​ ​not​ ​giving my​ ​all​ ​in​ ​the​ ​organization​ ​that​ ​was​ ​influential​ ​to​ ​my​ ​personal​ ​and​ ​professional​ ​growth.

On​ ​the​ ​rare​ ​occasion​ ​that​ ​I​ ​was​ ​scrolling​ ​through​ ​social​ ​media,​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​a​ ​post​ ​reposted​ ​by​ ​my​ ​high school​ ​band​ ​director,​ ​it​ ​said:​

​“​Leadership​ ​is​ ​often​ ​a​ ​lonely​ ​feeling….if​ ​they’ve​ ​never​ ​walked​ ​your path​ ​or​ ​carried​ ​your​ ​burdens,​ ​they​ ​will​ ​not​ ​understand​ ​your​ ​mentality.​ ​Never​ ​explain​ ​yourself, just​ ​do​ ​what​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​is​ ​right!”​

Never​ ​once​ ​have​ I ​blamed​ ​others​ ​for​ ​the​ ​things​ ​that​ ​have​ ​fallen​ ​in my​ ​inbox​ ​in​ ​the​ ​wee​ ​hours​ ​of​ ​the​ ​morning. But​ ​what​ ​happens​ ​when​ ​you’re​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​balance​ ​it​ ​all and​ ​feels​ ​like​ ​you’re​ ​barely​ ​keeping​ ​afloat?​ ​What​ ​happens​ ​when​ ​you​ ​try​ ​to​ ​step​ ​away​ ​but​ ​you see​ ​the​ ​negative​ ​effects​ ​of​ ​your​ ​stepping​ ​back?​ ​What​ ​happens​ ​when​ ​you​ ​have​ ​barely​ ​had​ ​a​ ​two minute​ ​conversation​ ​you​ ​worked​ ​so​ ​seamlessly​ ​with?​ ​

2cb2da9.jpgThe​ ​island​ ​of​ ​leadership​ ​is​ ​something​ ​that some​ ​may​ ​never​ ​understand​ ​or​ ​may​ ​never​ ​want​ ​to.​ ​I​ ​often​ ​have​ ​to​ ​make​ ​decisions​ ​for​ ​other people​ ​in​ ​a​ ​split​ ​second.​ ​One​ ​tries​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​that​ ​people​ ​still​ ​have​ ​a​ ​life​ ​outside​ ​the organization​ ​and​ ​I​ ​am​ ​not​ ​giving​ ​them​ ​a​ ​million​ ​things​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​I​ ​rather​ ​put​ ​myself​ ​in​ ​the​ ​no-sleep category​ ​than​ ​put​ ​them​ ​there.​ ​

But,​ ​sometimes​ ​I​ ​think​ ​it​ ​is​ ​easier​ ​to​ ​just​ ​say​ ​‘forget​ ​it​ ​all’.​ ​I’ve been​ ​close​ ​to​ ​walking​ ​away​ ​from​ ​everything​ ​that​ ​became​ ​apart​ ​of​ ​my​ ​identity.​ ​However,​ ​I​ ​often have​ ​to​ ​stop​ ​and​ ​think​ ​why​ ​I​ ​even​ ​chose​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​this​ ​position.​ ​Sometimes​ ​the​ ​lines​ ​are​ ​blurred,​ ​I feel​ ​like​ ​no​ ​one​ ​is​ ​listening​ ​or​ ​all​ ​the​ ​cards​ ​are​ ​stacked​ ​against​ ​me.​ ​But​ ​those​ ​are​ ​the​ ​moments where​ ​I​ ​realize​ ​that​ ​this​ ​is​ ​what​ ​people​ ​mean​ ​by​ ​“trust​ ​the​ ​process”.

Everything​ ​is​ ​not​ ​going​ ​to​ ​go​ ​the​ ​way​ ​you​ ​think​ ​about​ ​it.​ ​But​ ​I​ ​also​ ​realize​ ​that​ ​everything​ ​is​ ​a two-​ ​way​ ​street.​ ​I​ ​tell​ ​my​ ​team​ ​I​ ​trust​ ​them,​ ​but​ ​my​ ​own​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​failing​ ​them​ ​and​ ​not accomplishing​ ​our​ ​goals​ ​puts​ ​me​ ​into​ ​a​ ​frenzy.​ ​I​ ​try​ ​to​ ​bear​ ​the​ ​burden​ ​of​ ​the​ ​issues​ ​coming from​ ​higher​ ​up.​ ​

I​ ​rather​ ​be​ ​seen​ ​as​ ​the​ ​“bad​ ​cop”​ ​than​ ​have​ ​them​ ​bogged​ ​down​ ​with​ ​the​ ​minute issues​ ​that​ ​come​ ​across​ ​my​ ​laptop.​ ​But​ ​lately,​ ​I’ve​ ​realized​ ​that​ ​it​ ​just​ ​puts​ ​me​ ​into​ ​isolation. Honestly,​ ​leadership​ ​has​ ​taught​ ​me​ ​that​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​give​ ​a​ ​little​ ​to​ ​get​ ​a​ ​little,​ ​but​ ​that​ ​constant support​ ​is​ ​needed.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​processes​ ​that​ ​may​ ​become​ ​implemented​ ​so​ ​that​ ​when​ ​people are​ ​not​ ​readily​ ​available,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​resources​ ​in​ ​place​ ​to​ ​cut​ ​down​ ​on​ ​confusion​ ​and​ ​chaos/

To​ ​all​ ​my​ ​other​ ​leaders​ ​out​ ​there,​ ​I​ ​want​ ​you​ ​to​ ​know​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is​ ​okay​ ​to​ ​be​ ​selfish.​ ​You​ ​are​ ​human and​ ​you​ ​have​ ​moments​ ​where​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​check​ ​out​ ​for​ ​your​ ​own​ ​sanity.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​okay​ ​to​ ​want​ ​to not​ ​want​ ​to​ ​do​ ​a​ ​task​ ​because​ ​you​ ​know​ ​that​ ​someone​ ​else​ ​can​ ​do​ ​it.

 

To​ ​the​ ​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​supporting​ ​these​ ​leaders,​ ​sometimes​ ​there​ ​are​ ​battles​ ​we​ ​may​ ​be fighting​ ​so​ ​that​ ​you​ ​do​ ​not​ ​have​ ​to​ ​deal​ ​with​ ​them.​ ​We​ ​want​ ​you​ ​to​ ​flourish,​ ​but​ ​we​ ​do​ ​not​ ​want to​ ​bog​ ​you​ ​down​ ​with​ ​things​ ​that​ ​may​ ​dim​ ​that​ ​light.​ ​However,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​times​ ​when​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to hear​ ​the​ ​positive​ ​more​ ​than​ ​negative​ ​and​ ​we​ ​need​ ​the​ ​strong​ ​work​ ​ethic​ ​more​ ​than​ ​the complaints. images

Everything​ ​is​ ​a​ ​process.​ ​The​ ​journey​ ​is​ ​not​ ​always​ ​easy.​ ​But​ ​things​ ​that​ ​are​ ​worth​ ​it​ ​are​ ​not easy.​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​saying​ ​don’t​ ​call​ ​people​ ​out​ ​on​ ​rude​ ​behavior,​ ​but​ ​as​ ​leaders​ ​we​ ​try​ ​to​ ​always​ ​do the​ ​right​ ​thing​ ​at​ ​the​ ​right​ ​time.​ ​And​ ​sometimes​ ​we​ ​mess​ ​up.​ ​Those​ ​moments​ ​of​ ​failures​ ​should produced​ ​closeness​ ​and​ ​initiate​ ​help.​ ​

Even​ ​as​ ​a​ ​worrier,​ ​problem-​ ​solver​ ​and​ ​low-​ ​key perfectionist,​ ​people​ ​showing​ ​up​ ​and​ ​helping​ ​out​ ​makes​ ​me​ ​breathe​ ​a​ ​whole​ ​more.​ ​And​ ​when people​ ​do​ ​that,​ ​the​ ​appreciation,​ ​respect​ ​and​ ​love​ ​intensifies.

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