I am often reminded, none more so than this week, of Lieutenant General David Morrison’s now famous and often-quoted line about behavioural standards;
The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
As leaders, as men and women of worth, there is a standard that we have a responsibility to keep in our behaviour – because if we don’t, who will?
Sometimes there is an overwhelming temptation not to behave the way we know we have to. To simply say ‘nope, can’t be bothered, I am handing this one off, it’s too hard, I am giving up being responsible for the day/month/year’. The meme that I know most people would have seen on social media sums it up pretty well; ‘I can’t adult today… please don’t make me adult!’
But then I think about the social occasion I attended the other night, and the events that unfolded. I saw an extraordinary degree of trust, but also of astonishment, anger, and bewilderment in a room as a group of people came to terms with a social issue that had not previously been in their purview. I watched as they decided not to let it slide back under the tablecloth and become hidden and shameful.
I watched them decide to adult.
This is what it means to be a leader, and this is what we have to do every day, in every way, with every decision we make, large or small.
Because – and I say this again deliberately – if we don’t, who will?[inlinetweet prefix=”As leaders, we have to adult the hell up. If we do not, who will? #leadership #adultup” tweeter=”janinemgarner” ]The standard you sit with your lips shut tight against, with your ears closed against, with your arms folded against, with your mind shuttered against… That is a standard of ignorance, fear, and disgust.[/inlinetweet]
It is a standard that means you are making a choice to be a poor leader, to not stand up and say ‘this is unacceptable’.
So start making your choice, as I know I will be, every day, simply because if I don’t, I will not be able to face those people who were there that night.
Adult the hell up.