What does a good butt look like? Flat, square, round, protruding, non-existent, huge? The only way to answer this is to have a set of parameters of what makes a butt “good.” Have you ever stopped to question:
- that you have parameters of butt “goodness”?
- the fact that you’ve embraced someone else’s “good butt” parameters as your own?
- who set those parameters and why did they decide on that shape of butt as “good”?
We humans are so adaptable. It’s one of our greatest qualities. The problem is, when we live in the trance of adapting or fitting in, we accept something as the norm without considering if it makes sense. We all do it. I asked my son if my butt looked good in my new pants. He said, “What does a good butt look like, mom?” Wait, what?! My greatest teacher just taught me to pause and reassess my parameters of good buttness. In that split second, I realized that I had accepted a glossy magazine’s definition of a good butt and used that definition to torture myself into questioning pants that felt great.
Look, I’m not saying to ignore how pants look on you. I am proposing that you pause and consider which societal norms you’ve adopted. Some may be great, like the idea that we hold doors open for each other. Some may be horrid, like the idea that it’s ok to yell at an employee. I believe that my worry about how my butt looks stems from the same source as accepting fear in the workplace. My thinking is directed by wanting to succeed in our society and that means fitting in to the “norm” or being “normal.” Fear based management is so prevalent that it's become the norm, people don't question it anymore:
- Laid off after 10 years and not allowed to clean out your own desk or say goodbye to colleagues? Norm.
- Public shaming at a department meeting? Norm.
- Vague criticism in your performance review that teaches you nothing but leaves you feeling uneasy and not valued? Norm.
- Expectation that you’re available 24/7 via text and email? Norm.
- Cutthroat colleagues being promoted over others of equal qualification? Norm.
I had been onsite at an office for a few weeks, streamlining processes and coaching employees. It was a miserable project because people were nasty to each other and public shaming was the norm. Fear-based management trickling down from the top was infectious and was undermining trust and setting people against each other. One of the associates asked me in a coaching session if I felt something at the office. I asked her what she felt and she whispered, “Fear?” I said yes, fear. She breathed out and sighed. Then she began to name all the ways she experienced this fear-based culture. After 30 minutes of listing experiences, she paused and said, “I feel lighter. I feel better. I thought I was crazy.”
Crazy. This is pretty much how I felt after I asked my child about my butt in those pants. I was crazy to be questioning whether my butt met the societal expectations of good butt-ness. But glossy magazines and fear-based management gas-light us and make us question what we know to be true:
- That compassion and kindness lead people to be more productive, loyal, and creative.
- That people who feel safe in an office share smart ideas that push products beyond the common to the trail blazing.
- That colleagues who trust each other collaborate regularly which expedites production and reduces cycle time thereby reducing expense.
- That my butt looks great in whatever pants I wear because I like myself as I am.
It takes courage to pause and reconsider that which we assume to be correct and non-negotiable. But everything is negotiable. Everything. How I think about my rear end, how you treat your direct report after your boss yells at you, how you react to your boss when she’s yelling at you, how long you stay at that company. It’s all within our power to decide what we want for our lives. Those of us in positions of power at an office have a huge responsibility to ourselves and to our colleagues. We can adopt the fear-based methodology and perpetuate the back-stabbing culture or we can shift it, one person at a time, by pausing and assessing if what we see around us is in alignment with whom we want to be in this world and how we want to be treated by others. The moment we say, “Wait, what?!” we are evolving. The more we evolve, the better a manager we can be which leads directly to truly effective leadership.
My butt looks awesome and so does yours. What else do you need to reassess?
Image: Eddy Van 3000