ing seminar that focused on identifying and understanding different leadership styles. Barf, right? I mean, how many of these things are there? At least a thousand – maybe more. I can’t be sure. Anyways, I went into this seminar expecting it to be the same old song and dance that I’ve seen countless times before. Surprisingly, I came out of it inspired to write my next column. Before you run away, I promise this isn’t a shameless plug for leadership or personality seminars and all the wonders they hold (I still stand by my previous theory that once you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all). Rather, I’d like to briefly explore some of the common misconceptions people make about leadership and, more specifically, what constitutes strength in my book.
Now, everyone knows that there are a handful of different personality types. When it comes to books or seminars or programs, personalities are identified by names, colors, animals, symbols – pretty much anything you can think of. The one I went to last week divided us up by four animals: eagles, bluebirds, bunnies and fish. Anyone who knows me personally could easily guess which category I fall into, but for those who don’t, I am a bunny. This means I’m cute and bouncy and hungry and whatever other qualities bunnies typically have.
Actually, all jokes aside, “bunnies” are generally identified as the team players – the ones who thrive in group settings and strive to promote harmony. We are often characterized by our tendency to avoid conflict like the plague which, speaking for myself, is absolutely true. However, many others view us as weak and unable to take a stand for ourselves or get what we really want. That’s where my real issue lies.
It’s true that I avoid confrontation whenever I can. I’m definitely not the loudest voice in any group, as my family can surely attest to. However, my question is, when did being loud or confrontational become the definition of strength? Yes, being loud is considered an intimidation method, and oftentimes intimidation can force a person to back down. However, I’ve found that battles are best won when tackled from a calm and rational angle. Sure, fighting with all the pomp and circumstance that you can muster up will definitely draw a lot of attention to you and perhaps gain support from others, but it’s also an easy way to burn bridges. A fiery temper can only do so much before it becomes harmful to you and others.
More importantly, not every battle needs to be fought. A good rule of thumb I continue to embrace is that if the issue at hand doesn’t involve you directly and personally, stay the heck out of it. Seriously. Don’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. I don’t claim to be perfect and there have been many times when I’ve jumped headfirst into someone else’s mess. The result? More miscommunication, more hurt feelings and overall, a much bigger mess to clean up. I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s best to sidestep a battle even if it does involve you. I’m not saying you should let other people walk all over you, but sometimes it’s just best to let the small things go without a fight for the sake of maintaining peace and harmony.
I suppose I can understand why doing such a thing would appear weak to some. After all, forfeiting means losing, and losers are weak, right? Wrong. In my eyes, the strongest people are those who can accept some losses as an inevitable part of life and also know how to defend what is important to them without completely wreaking havoc around them.
That being said, there are times when it is essential for you to stand your own in a battle. You have every right to defend what you believe, and if someone is threatening you in a way that can’t be ignored, then you should absolutely stand up for yourself. However, there is a smart way to do so that will earn the respect of others. Everyone always preaches about putting yourself in another person’s shoes before you judge them, and although it’s super cliché, it’s also pretty wise. Being considerate of someone’s situation can make all the difference when it comes to resolving conflict.
So, when it’s all said and done, I’m pretty proud to be a bunny. When it comes to conflict, just remember that us bunnies do know how to hold our own and we may just have a thing or two up our sleeves. If you think you can just step all over us, think again. Bunnies out.