Armored leadership vs. Daring leadership

I connected to a few armored leadership styles in the “The Armory”, and #12 — “Rewarding Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Attaching Productivity to Self-Worth” stood out the first, and its daring leadership is “Modeling and Supporting Rest, Play, and Recovery”. The other one is #15, “Zigzagging and Avoiding”, as the armored leadership, and “Talking Straight and Taking Action” is the daring leadership.

I like learning and working, and I could go for a long time without stop. A similar pattern is found in reading, cooking, outing, etc. I also tend to fill up my class and working breaks with things like watering plants, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. Every minute is used for productivity and “accomplishment”, and I became a slave of them.

Consequently, self-care is pushed to the side, tomorrow, the next day, etc. Yoga class is my regular time for self-care, but wait, it’s supposed to be a workout! Sleep is my final resting time, but I want to browse social media and keep delaying my bedtime. The vicious cycle perpetuates itself and I haven’t been well-rested for quite a while. Exhaustion brought me a fake feeling ahead of the competition, but discounted my effectiveness, and limited my capacity to build up connections, friendships, and relationships.

When I reflected on this, I have few boundaries or limitations for workload and time. It’s embedded in the hard-working culture that I grew up with, as a virtue to be attached to success and self-worth. Productivity is one of the key measures for success, while process and connection are less respected. Furthermore, it’s rooted in capitalism and materialism, the more the better; and in perfectionism, nothing is good enough and keeps going.

On the other hand, I feel the best when I’m relaxed, creative, and connected with a balanced lifestyle. But I not only feel difficult to change the old habits but also feel pressure from social norms. To challenge it, I start by building an earlier and routine sleeping schedule, taking a supplement if necessary, to ensure 8–9-hour good quality of sleep every evening and a good following day. Stretch and yoga at least twice weekly and build boundaries around work and time. Leave out time to play games and walk/jog in nature a few times weekly and read Adrienne Brown and Brene Brown’s books again to reinforce my learning and practice.

Zigzagging and avoiding appeared a lot in my professional and personal communication, and it’s mainly from my concern to hurt people’s feelings without empathy, or insufficient time/energy for discussion. It is a huge energy suck as the conflicts or concerns remain until I face them directly sooner or later. Fear runs underneath both behaviors and it takes vulnerability and courage to step into it. Talking straight and starting to take actions could open up new possibilities, then consistently refining the solutions and adjusting the actions, is the right pathway to restructure relationships.

I tend to do more straight talking and taking action in time constraints, and I want to be better at doing it with mindfulness and consideration. I would like to align that more with my values, clarify priorities with empathy, and balance that with other daring leaderships in context.

During our team discussion, we all shared our experiences connecting to multiple armored leadership styles and contributed to this topic from our experiences beyond the “The Armory”. Numbing and zigzagging often go together to avoid what should be said or done, and we all suffered from leading for compliance and control as it prioritizes hierarchy and authority before trust, open communication, collaboration, and true accountability. We all had questions on working from scarcity because it sometimes brings us realistic expectations of success vs. failure. However, we do want to celebrate from small to all victories to experience joy more often. We also recognized exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth but play and creativity open our hearts and minds to more happiness and fulfillment. This even helps in planning our class and workload for next semester and makes us prioritize our time in play, relaxation, and reflection. Our conversation kept going and this was the most active discussion among all prompts as we are all hurt by various armored leaderships and yearning for daring leaderships.

The San Francisco Armory was built in 1912–1914 and is two blocks from my house. It looked solid and huge outside but empty and hollow inside. Strength is built with true daring within.


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store