The Inside Story


With leadership comes expectations.

They surround us.

Demanding that we perform.

That we are responsible.




But never messy.

Somehow we must reconcile this with an inner life that isn’t so tidy.





We struggle to maintain an uncomfortable equilibrium.

We put on a mask.

But this comes with a price.

Because sooner or later, if we don’t care for the messiness on the inside, it will bleed through to the outside.

When we deny or are ashamed of our inside story, we try to compensate.

Act out.




It is rare to find a workplace that encourages or supports vulnerability, especially among its leaders.

One where we can be both the person who is uncertain and the person moves forward anyway.

One where we can be the person who is afraid to fail and the person who takes the necessary risk.

One where we can be the person who is hurting and the person who holds it together for the team.

Imagine an organization that encourages this kind of wholeness and humanity. Where our struggles are held in compassion and understanding even as we press beyond our limitations to accomplish goals and achieve results.

Where our inside story inspires the outside story.

Yet, even where this kind of environment isn’t available we must find a way to care for the stuff we don’t feel safe expressing in our work context.

  • Developing trusted friends with whom we can express our inner story and from whom we can gain encouragement.
  • Journaling as a means of bringing our thoughts into the open where they can be processed and put into perspective.
  • Reflecting on a deeper purpose for our work while reminding ourselves that we can change the story and choose our response.
  • Observing our inner story with curiosity and considering what we can learn from these impressions and emotions rather than rejecting or shaming ourselves for normal, human experiences.
  • Appreciating that everyone has an inside story and creating a safe place for these stories to be heard and held so that change can begin.

When we appreciate, understand, and value our inside stories we empower our  choices and actions and with awareness.

This awareness allows us to be more fully present and proactive when our leadership is needed.

“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
Brené Brown


  1. I have been afraid of pursuing a management position because I don’t want to wear a mask. This article brings me hope that I can find a way to be authentic and vulnerable and still lead effectively. Thank you!


    1. Thank you Paula – I am very happy you found the post to be encouraging. I wish you the best in your journey.


  2. When I hear thoughts such as these I think of Eric Hoffer’s quote: “The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist at the same time.”


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