"It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent; it is the species that is most responsive to change."
Sir Charles Darwin

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I've been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about grief.  Our society (grossly generalized) seems to want to avoid grief, or keep it as short as possible. We're supposed to be happy, smiling all the time, our hearts filled with joy, just like on the TV commercials. And grief just
seems so, well, sad, and therefore somehow bad.

I submit that often our role as a leader, is to help a person or a group of people through a  very sad time, like grief. A fundamental challenge for us is our own response to sadness. For example, for many of us, anothers' tears make us feel uncomfortable, and so we respond with requests like "don't cry", or "oh no, no tears," and other similar lines. This is
especially true of men, but is also evident for some women in the workplace: "never let them see you cry", or "crying shows that you're weak."

Crying is an entirely appropriate response to events that cause grief and sadness. Not crying is not healthy in such instances. That said, when we cry as leaders, the people we are leading will more often than not want to look after us, get focused on how to make it better for us, or otherwise try to help, and then not be paying attention to the content of our message, or actions.

We're left in a quandary, a healthy response to grief is to cry, and crying can send unintended messages to our team.  My own experience, and the teachings of any one of my teachers has taught me the following, when leading when people are grieving. First, don't just do something, sit there. More often than not, the person simply needs the safety and security of your presence in which to cry, and trying to "make it better" often makes the person feel embarrassed and therefore worse. Second, if you have to deliver sad news, if at all possible, cry yourself before hand, ideally with a confidante close by, who can just sit with you. By crying before hand, you'll probably be able to deliver the news without crying. And if you do cry, do not apologize, take a few deep breaths and keep going, your credibility will be intact, and your team will be more likely to hear your message if you just keep going without the apology. And thirdly, recognize that people's responses to crying have much more to do with their own stuff, than to what's happening for you. Be true to yourself, if you want to cry, cry, it's what we do.

Have a full week, good and bad, happy and sad, and see the health in that balance.