Boundaries are deliberate limits that protect what we care about.
And what’s empowering about setting them is, they not only keep us safe, but they can also spur another person’s growth.
Years ago, my application for membership in an exclusive leadership group was approved and moved forward to the group interview stage.
Which meant sitting in a chair facing twelve strangers who apparent job was to intimidate and challenge me.
The first word out of the big swinging dick alpha male’s mouth was, what the fuck is with that stupid nametag?
Didn’t flinch. Gave my normal response. Smiled wide.
To which he replied, well, what if we told you that you couldn’t wear your nametag as a member of this group?
Since that’s not the first time somebody has said that to me, and since it seemed appropriate to match this guy’s level of intensity, my response was:
Well, that’s unfortunate, because then you would be missing out on a valuable member of this group for a very stupid reason. Look, wearing a nametag is a daily commitment that’s deeply meaningful to me. It doesn’t come off. But if you’re so threatened by my little sticker, then perhaps you need this group more than me.
Five seconds of stunned silence later, he moved onto the next question and never bothered me about wearing a nametag again.
Boundaries are gifts. Both to us and those with whom we set them. Because when we stay comfortable within our new boundary, without weakening it to make the other person feel better, or without tearing it back down because of someone’s reaction, the balance of power shifts. The other person gains a greater respect for us.
And if we’re lucky, we might open a value door of growth for that individual.
It’s actually a form of leadership.
Going first, as is the literal translation of the word, to set limits that protect what we care about.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you able to hold a courageous conversation to reinforce your boundaries?