I am tired.
I feel like I start a lot of emails, tweets and newsletters that way these days.
The thing is, it is true, and it is true for many others. There is an ennui in the air, now that the vaccine is here, we are ending the collective breath we were exhaling for the past…..six months.
Here is the thing: In our collective exhaustion, we are edgy. Quick-tempered, even. I have wanted to throw things more often in recent months than ever before because I am just done. During catch-up calls and coaching sessions, I talk to journalists young and old, on all levels and they are upset.
We have seen the tide of change and it is coming, which makes us realize how long we have been treading water. And we see others who maybe have been starting to sink, and pulling others with them.
Let me make a request of you right now. Give grace to yourself. Give grace to everyone around you.
Not the Southern “Bless her heart” kind of grace either. True grace, which is true compassion. Grace is not a free pass. And it is talked a lot about in religion, but it’s not an inherently religious action. Grace is not passive aggressive. It is hard to define and I have spent weeks rolling this around in my head: what do grace and leadership have to do with one another? I’m still marinating, but I wanted to share some of what I’ve realized.
Everyone deserves grace. It is not something earned. It is something given. There is an eternal well of it within everyone, but we tend to hold onto it like it is a precious resource. While it is precious, it is also an infinite resource. Someone mentioned to me the idea of “deserving” grace, but that doesn’t sit well, because grace is the thing we need most from ourselves and others in the extra difficult moments — the moments where we are being brats, or stubborn or lashing out because we are tired. You don’t really need grace when you are doing well and everything is OK. You need grace when you are at rock bottom and don’t even know it.
Because I don’t even know when I am at my worst, I know the person who needs my grace the most is the person I want to give it to least. The people who I am frustrated with and want to shake and say “why are you this way??” are probably the people who need me to stop and look at the bigger picture. There’s that saying that many people are fighting wars you cannot even see. I was crying and angry the other day about a grief-related situation. Not long after I lashed out about something totally unrelated. And thankfully, the person I lashed out gave me grace. They had no idea what was going on, but they understood my actions were likely not related.
It is easy to give grace to people you are close to, because you know what is happening with their lives. It is hard to give grace to your bosses’ boss because you don’t know, and not knowing means sometimes we make assumptions about intent. Nothing is simple, especially right now.
Grace is the opposite of imposter syndrome and analogous to being “enough.” To give grace to yourself in moments of hardship is to say, I see this is hard. I see I cannot fix it. I see it is. Imposter syndrome is feeling like you cannot accept the success you have gained. Grace is accepting that you got it, and not interrogating the bad feelings. Journalists of color may always feel like imposters, and the moment you stop trying to fix that feeling, but accept it for what it is (internalized racism and more), the more energy you have to put toward building more success.
But how do you do this? How to practice it and not make excuses for people? If grace is not earned, how do you get it when you need it?
Much of it comes back to being a good human. Be kind. Be transparent. Fix wrongs soon and don’t let them fester. Interrogate the good and the bad.
Give grace when someone seems off-kilter. Assume best intent, and understand that complexity is rooted deep and it takes a long time to understand why things are growing one way instead of the other. Be patient. Accept it when someone gives you a surface-level explanation and instead of furiously ripping things down, slowly pull what is going on apart.
Get grace by giving it to yourself first. As I mentioned, I am tired. Self-care is not just 90-day fiance and bubble baths with fancy candles (though that is nice). I am trying to give myself grace by noting what I feel, and save the fixing how I feel for later, when I have the energy. I am tired. I am sad. I am. It means a lot of walking away from productivity, and walking toward creating. Creating take time, productivity is a factory. Creating, I can do right now. Producing….not so much.
Changing the world and fixing broken systems are both happening, and yes, it cannot happen fast enough. But it is happening as fast as it needs to.
If you’re curious, here’s a short list of articles (all not religious) that I found helpful when thinking about grace.
- The benefits of grace for you: “Grace happens to give us some space, acceptance, and room to take a hard swallow or step back…and practice self-compassion.”
- What happens when you give yourself grace: “Giving ourselves grace can help us make small, sustainable changes that help support our long term goals, mental health, and well-being.”
- On grace in terms of supporting others: “True graciousness is about empathy and inclusion—about making others feel welcome.”
- More of leadership + grace: “Grace means composure and quiet confidence in our leadership.”
- A definition of grace-based leadership: ”…Courtesy and respect and servanthood and leadership were extended to you regardless of how well you performed and independent of your ability to ‘earn’ such treatment.”
Reading // Watching // Eating //Testing //
Untamed by Glennon Doyle is one of those memoirs that reads like a rallying call. I’ve been reading it on and off in the past few months and it’s uplifting without being too hokey.
Late to it, but WandaVision is pretty great and a lovely escape.
I just made a big batch of this Brazilian-inspired Moqueca with eggs. Simple and really filling way to use coconut milk that is not your typical curry.
PS: You will notice there are no jobs in this edition. First, I send this out so intermittantly that it makes no sense to promise you jobs, plus there are much better newsletters for that purpose. But I would like to offer to final section for….something. I considered more links out. I’ve also thought about linking to a task or worksheet or leadership tip. I’d love to hear your thoughts, just reply to this email.