When I was twelve I wanted to be Australia’s first female Prime Minister. I dreamed of making the world a better place.
I also dreamed of living in a palace. In said palace would be many magnificent staircases down which I would sashay while wearing stylish palace-ish clothes.
My plan was to change the world and look fabulous while doing so.
Julia Gillard’s already done the first-female-Prime-Minister thing but I haven’t given up on the better world or palace-staircase-clothes thing.
Last year I spent a day at the Palace of Versailles. I still clutched the idea of gliding down splendid staircases, wistfully gazing out ornate windows, elegantly strolling through cavernous hallways, and draping delicately on sumptuous furniture.
(I am in fact a clomper not a glider, I have never mastered wistful, and I’m only elegant or delicate in my imagination).
Thankfully the palace itself was everything I’d anticipated. The day was abundant with awe-filled moments.
It was also exceedingly, remarkably, stingingly cold. There was more shivering and speedy striding than there was swanning and sashaying. Then halfway through the afternoon I lost a glove. The truth of a European winter was not included in my adolescent fantasy. That glove-less hand made the rest of me icier than I had ever envisaged.
The reality was different from, yet somehow still exceeded, the vision.
So it is with leadership specifically and life generally. There are days when I feel like I have sunshine on my shoulders, I’m moving with ease, working to my strengths, and achieving things for the Greater Good.
Then there are days I feel like the temperature’s dropped below zero, I’m distracted by the cold, and accomplishing nothing of substance.
But that’s okay. Either way I’m still me. I know my abilities and experiences. I know I sometimes choose badly and often choose well.
More importantly I know the ideals I hold and the value I contribute; they’re like those gloves I was wearing in Versailles. If I lose one, everything else is out of kilter.
Our edges are sometimes stretched when we change, or when situations change. We are impacted by the decisions and actions of other people. Regardless of what’s going on around us we can choose to lead ourselves effectively.
Be prepared. Rug up. Know that you matter.
And the gloves. Don’t drop the gloves.