Stop Pulling Out the Lipstick!

Ink & Gel Pen on Watercolor paper – Words: Jeannette Rankin

When you get to know people you are able to see their potential beyond their current state. That is both a gift and a curse. All too often we want more for people than they themselves have the ability to see or believe for themselves. There is nothing more frustrating than to see someone squander their abilities by living a life that is less than. There is nothing more joyous than to see someone exceed and grow beyond themselves to become the person they were always meant to be.

I spoke to a manager who wanted to know how to push his team to the role he knew would be best for them. When I asked him what they wanted when he asked them, he said they all mentioned being content and happy in their current role and that to a person they did not want to change roles. He said he found himself pushing them and they seemed to be shutting down. I told him we had a saying for that in the South, stop trying to put lipstick on a pig. You waste a lot of energy, usually get very dirty and all you do is make the pig really mad! He laughed and had never thought of it that way. He KNEW they could do so much more, so he pushed. I asked him how things might change if he REALLY listened to them instead of always trying to push? They were telling him the truth, it just wasn’t the truth he wanted to hear.

Loving people and leading people means listening to people. It means hearing them and understanding what they are saying and WHY they are saying it. We do not always know best. We are not the all knowing, all seeing, great and powerful Wizard of Oz. Sure some people aim low, and there is usually a reason for that. Instead of pushing it may mean training, education, experiences and kindness are needed to help that person see their own potential. And then again they may never see it, so we need to stop pulling out the lipstick. Take them as far as they will go then let them be themselves, even if that self is a lesser version than you know is possible. Let them live their lives and love them no matter what. THAT is when the magic happens, when they are safe and themselves the seeds you planted may begin to grow. And if they don’t grow they are happy with who they are, where they are and see no need for lipstick at this stage of their life. Okee dokee!

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