The whole family was in the car, headed to our favorite local coffee shop, Noble and Main. Seemingly out of nowhere, my son asks a question about something he had heard me say to my husband in a conversation several days ago.
It caught me completely off-guard.
I hadn’t known he was listening.
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably had a similar situation – one where you didn’t even know your child was listening until she later repeats something you said. You swear she had her earphones in during that conversation! How in the world did she hear you? Or he chose that one phrase that came out of your mouth to fixate on and repeat…to the mailman, to the cashier, to his Sunday School teacher…
My boys are 12 and 17, and somehow I still haven’t learned that they’re always listening, even when it doesn’t appear so. (**Disclaimer – this is not to be confused with their innate ability to use selective listening.)
As a leader, I’ve also had to learn that someone is always listening.
That can seem really overwhelming and heavy at first glance. Isn’t it ever safe for a leader to let their guard down? Do I always have to be “on”?
There’s a secret to not being overwhelmed by this.
Want to hear it?
Be the same person when people are around you as when no one is around.
When you take away the pressure of “putting a good face forward” and “turning it on” when people are around, the burden of worrying if people are always listening goes away.
People are always watching you. People are always listening.
But if you continue to be your authentic self, you don’t have to worry about that.
That doesn’t mean that I say everything to everyone. It doesn’t mean I’m inappropriately open with my life.
It just means that I am always me.
So my challenge to you is this:
Be you. Always.
People are listening to you. Speak truth, with love. Don’t act one way with one person and a different way with another. Live with honesty and integrity and humility, and it won’t matter who’s listening.