What Uniform Do You Wear?

I flew to Philly to participate in a conference where I met up with my brother-in-law Johnny, a Colonel in the Marine Corp Reserves. We had a great dinner and were greeted warmly by everyone in our path. Johnny was in uniform, having just come from a funeral where he was a pallbearer. Strangers opened the door for him, sent over an appetizer, refused to accept his money for coffee at Starbucks, and thanked him for his service and his many sacrifices.This got me thinking…Johnny wore his uniform outwardly and consciously. How many of us, as leaders, are aware of the uniforms we wear? We are leaders and touch other people’s lives whether we are conscious of it or not.What messages are we giving to others by the uniforms we wear? Are they uniforms of service and value? Uniforms of greed? Uniforms of arrogance? Uniforms of fear? Uniforms of love? What is the story of your uniform? Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” This struck me on several levels.First, I think that many of us are afraid to change or “get rid of” our current life, even if our current life is not serving us well. We are fearful of the unfamiliar and even if the current situation is unhealthy, dysfunctional, or negative, it is familiar – and that familiarity is enough to keep people stuck and paralyzed.Then I started thinking about the “old skin” and how this is such a beautiful metaphor of how we cover ourselves with a skin, mask, or armor. You know the old skin…it is the stories we tell and believe that keeps us stuck. The skin is also a mask that we sometimes hide behind, so we don’t really have to show up. The skin is also armor we put on to “protect” us from being hurt. The problem with armor is that nothing can penetrate from either direction, meaning we cannot send out love, compassion, or joy.While Joseph Campbell may have been referring to radical change, this rich quote is also applicable to small changes. Like I often tell my clients, sometimes only a minor shift or course correction is necessary. A ten-degree shift may be all we need to shed our old skin and start living the life waiting for us.What are you waiting for?Is it time to shed our skin, masks, or armor? Is it time to change our uniforms or take them to the dry cleaners? Or, is it time to redesign our uniforms? How would you design your uniform?I would love to hear from you. What uniform are you currently wearing and what is the uniform you would like to be wearing?With love,Maria