Three Keys to Authentic Leadership: Mary, Martha, and Margin

February 16, 2018

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While most of the country has been hunkered down this winter with some nasty weather, here in FL it is beautiful (I suspect many of you don't want to hear that!). Yes, the "season" is in full swing, and with that means many visitors and lots of social opportunities. Meeting new friends, making time for old friends and of course spending time with family. And fitting in work as well! As enjoyable as it all can be, it still can be overwhelming at times. And at those times, I need to be careful to not fall into the Martha trap and to give myself extra Margin. 


Pause or break time hand gesture isolated on white background. Time out signal

So, who is this Martha? She is the sister of Mary and Lazarus, and a main player in a popular bible story (Luke 10:38-42). And whether you read the bible or not, it is a great reminder of the importance of pausing and being present/enjoying the moment vs plowing through

I tend to be more of a plower than a pauser. 

And that makes me more like Martha in the story. She was so busy and distracted by all of the preparations for her company that she missed spending quality time with the guest of honor, in this case, Jesus. And then she got a tad annoyed and bitter with her sister, Mary, who stopped her preparations, so she could enjoy being with her company. Has that happened to you? Does that happen to you? Being so focused on the preparation and execution that you miss the Joy of being in the moment?

It almost happened to me recently, when I was preparing to speak to a group of executives in the Financial Services Industry. I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in their annual conference and share on the topic of Leading Change Authentically. It is an area of passion for me, and quite relevant for this group whose industry has an incredible amount of change going on. A great fit!

Like Martha, I was well prepared. But unlike Mary, I started down the Martha road becoming overly concerned with every little detail, to the point that perfectionism started to seep in. And for me, what often follows the perfectionistic tendency is fear and second guessing. 

Will they like me? Will I remember my key points? Have I practiced too much? Will I have enough time to communicate what I need? Is my outfit too casual for this group of financial people? ARGH. I was headed down a bad path, until I remembered that I could stop it!  And guess what I did. I stopped it. 

I recognized what I was doing and stopped the voice in my head.

And paused.

And went for a walk. 

And talked to a friend. 

And ate a healthy meal. 

And prayed. 

And replaced the negative with positive.

I was able to shut off Martha and bring myself back to Mary mode.

And had I not had enough time (Margin) to do just that, I would not have been as successful!

Once again, I realized three important points for me to be an authentic and present leader:

Kate Johnson
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