In early April, I cut my own hair. Not a trim, by the way. That was the plan but it didn’t work out that way – I couldn’t get it quite the way I wanted so I just kept cutting.
Which nobody in my family is particularly happy about, even though we all know that, yes, eventually, it will grow out.
“But why?” my fashion conscious 14-year-old Sophia asked me, partially bewildered, partially accusatory. “Why would you do that?”
It’s a great question. I had other options: I could have let it grow out or let a family member cut it (surely they would have done a better job).
But after considering it for a minute, the answer was obvious: Control. Cutting my own hair gave me control over something, in a situation where I feel so little control.
But before you go out and cut all your own hair off, you should know, it doesn’t work. While the idea of cutting my own hair was comforting to me, the result – in every way – not so much.
I still feel the stress and uncertainty of not knowing when work will return to normal or what our revenue will be or when I’ll be able to travel or whether someone in my family will become sick, or when I or people close to me will die.
Because we are all in a moment we don’t control.
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and prolific spiritual writer, wrote a book called Adam’s Return that focused on male initiation rites. He found 5 consistent lessons embedded in these rituals that crossed all cultures, lessons meant to bring young men out of their child-like sense of self into the reality of life. And while he specifically studied male initiation rites, these truths are equally relevant and important for women as they are for men:
- Life is hard.
- You are not important.
- Your life is not about you.
- You are not in control.
- You are going to die.
I know, not pretty. And you may be tempted to argue against them.
But read the list again; You cannot ignore the deep, pervasive truths that lie within those 5 statements.
In other words, it is not just now that we don’t have control. It’s never. We’ve never had control. It’s just that now it’s obvious, present and impossible to ignore.
Which actually gives us an opportunity.
Let’s not fight these five truths, let’s embrace them. Let’s use this moment to get good – really good – at living life in reality. This can be our initiation.
There’s a surprising thing we receive when we accept the truth of these truths: Power.
Knowing that life is hard takes some of the pressure off. And once you truly accept that you are not important, that it’s not about you, that you’re not in control, what you’re left with is a tremendous freedom to act, try new things, experiment for a greater good than yourself. Failure is fine. So is success. It’s not about you.
And knowing – in a deep and intimate way – that you are going to die, confirms that it’s not all about you and, at the same time, adds a motivational nudge to act.
The best, strongest, most capable leaders I know and with whom I work, lead and live from the reality of these 5 truths.