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The Delusion of Persecution

One of the most difficult things for many leaders to accept is criticism. Having assumed a position of authority, it’s easy to believe that my opinions, my thoughts, my actions are always correct because, well, I’m the leader. Yet every human who leads is just that...a human. Which means we are fallible; we are not perfect and we can, and do, make mistakes. Yet when our mistakes are pointed out, how often do we fail to listen to what may simply be constructive feedback and instead view it as an attack on ourselves or our ideas? Ralph Waldo Emerson warned of the temptation to lean toward self-defense instead of self-reflection when he said, "Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted." If we never stop to consider the opinions or thoughts of others that may be contrary to our own, then we never create space for personal growth. So next time we find ourselves feeling that we’re “under attack” from those who don’t agree with us, maybe we’re not being persecuted like we think. Maybe we’re just wrong. As leaders, do we have the humility to consider this and the courage to admit it?

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