This blog is certainly not about one of my finer moments. In fact, the very night it happened, CeCe said, “Joey, please don’t blog about this.” Yet, as I reflect on these comical missteps, it might provide us with some key leadership insights. Just hoping CeCe skips this week’s blog.
A few weeks ago, I had been working outside all day at our cabin near Eagle Lake. This was an unusually hot day and I spent most of it drenched in sweat. Returning home, I jumped into the shower and it felt so good until that warm water hit my chest where I discovered that my chest was raw and sensitive from my work shirt rubbing against it during the day.
As I went to put on a t-shirt, even that contact lit me up with pain. So I reached up into the cabinet and got CeCe’s drawer of band-aids down hoping that would provide me a little more comfort. Noticing three or four small round band-aids in the corner of the drawer, I grabbed two of them. As I put them on, I felt that sting again. As the night progressed, it seemed as though my pain was growing not getting better.
As I am getting ready for bed, I pull my t-shirt off and CeCe says, “what is that on your chest?”
“Working at the cabin with a wet shirt on really got my chest raw and I put these band-aids on to help protect the sensitive areas. But it seems to have gotten worse,” as I begin to attempt to pull the first one-off. “OUCH! Dang, this will not come off and it is hurting like crazy!”
“Let me see,” as CeCe comes over for a closer look. I yank the first one off and literally almost pass out from the sharp pain.
“You idiot! That’s not a band-aid, those are patches for removal of foot corns,” as she begins to laugh hysterically. It’s definitely not funny to me at the moment as I still have one more to rip off. I do not recommend. We did sit down and laughed till we cried before hitting the bed with real band-aids and soothing ointment.
With CeCe’s warning in the back of my mind, I kept relating this incident to the importance and power of criticality (our reflex to critique) when we use it properly.
Criticality is an important leadership trait and a tremendous strength when applied properly. When we can be candid and challenge others without pushing too hard, it is a strength that grows us and others towards our full potential. When our criticality is too low, we may struggle with accountability, challenging others to stretch for their potential and avoid hard conversations when we see something troubling. On the other hand, when we overplay our criticality, we can be viewed as hard to please and people can find it difficult to have the courage to grow in fear of more unfiltered critiques.
Timing is so important when we provide criticality. It should be candid but delivered with care and in a way that is helpful to others. Being tentative and asking challenging questions are good tools to use in providing feedback of this nature. CeCe was a little strong with her candor and too quick with her critique of my situation. With criticality, we always want to avoid making the pain worse. She made up for it as we laughed together and she found some ointment to help my pain.
Be careful what you apply to sensitive things and how and when you use your criticality.