The question about wearing masks during the COVID-19 crisis might feel major at this moment. But it pales in comparison to a far greater problem consuming our culture during this critical time—leaders masking their aloneness.
Whether or not you “mask-up” when you enter a gas station or grocery story today is your decision. I’m sure you have an opinion or position on the matter. I don’t particularly care one way or another what you decide. You have the right to choose.
And no. I’m not making light of the Coronavirus at all. But long before this disease was named or deemed a global pandemic, our world was already infected by an epidemic more deadly and damaging than we want to admit. And after COVID-19 has come and gone, this issue will remain because it can’t be cured by a vaccine.
Is the loneliness of leadership self-inflicted?
The world lost another fine leader this past week. Darrin Patrick died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. While there will remain speculation about the actual cause of his death, there’s no doubt he suffered. Like so many other leaders, this poor man struggled with the pressures of his profession until the pain was unbearable.
In the last few years, I have been saying—without apology—that the “loneliness of leadership is a self-inflicted wound”. In other words, it’s manufactured. We choose aloneness as leaders more than we’re comfortable confessing. But the problem is real. Because leaders live in a world where people prefer we hide our flaws behind a facade.
Pastors, politicians, parents—people—we all tend to pretend. And in the end, everyone pays a terrible price. Maybe that’s because since the beginning of time we’ve always preferred the lie. Always struggled with trust. And always sought to control.
A couple of weeks of ago, I did a Zoom call with a group of influencers on this topic. I asked them how they deal with the “loneliness of leadership” struggle. Almost to a person, they each admitted, “I don’t.” Why? Because the potential for criticism it too high a price to pay. Sharing your burdens has become a recipe for vocational suicide.
How ironic. Not sharing your burdens results in the same outcome far too often. And while it might not always end in literal death, the decision to disguise is still deadly. Many leaders are dying inside. Their relationships suffer. And their health does, too.
No one wants to see behind our masks and witness the weakness we all share. They’d rather we breathe in our own bacteria. But that cannot be an excuse anymore. We cannot give into the insecurities of those we serve. It’s time for a new “normal” if you will. And like the COVID-19 crisis, it will come with a cost. But the alternative is worse. Just ask Darrin Patrick’s family. And by the way, don’t think you’re immune!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. But only share if you can be honest.
Do you wear a mask to protect your identity and reputation?
What is your greatest fear of being authentic and vulnerable?
“The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.”
As I turn 50 this year, I’m getting ready to take a deep dive and distance myself from working exclusively in ministry, which has been my vocation for 30 years. After three decades of leadership, I’ve determined that the need to help people live and lead with authenticity in an artificial world is a bigger issue I must tackle. I hope you continue to join me on my journey. I’d love to help you become healthy and whole in your role.
Please subscribe to continue to read my blog and listen to my upcoming podcast, Square Peg Round Hole™, where I will talk about ideas that just don’t fit the norm.
Thanks for answering the questions above in the comments below. Or feel free to connect with me personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to listen. And please, share this post with others. Let’s make sure no one feels alone in leadership.