Ben Norris

Unconscious spending

This week I learned an important lesson on being aware of my communication, and especially how it can impact others in my life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these posts, and what I share publicly.

My last update shared an experience of realization and growth I had during a 1:1. Someone was talking with me about that article and posed a penetrating question:

How do you think the people that report to you feel reading something their manager shared from a private 1:1?

I don’t think those were the exact words, but it was something along those lines.

That question shook me.

As I had written that update, I was careful to not share anything I thought could have been personal or inappropriate to share. I didn’t work too hard to conceal who the person I spoke with was, although I also didn’t name him directly.

But the question was a good wake up call for me. I don’t have the right to share someone else’s story, especially without their permission.

Just because I am sharing what I learned from the experience doesn’t mean that it’s ok for me to share details that could potentially impact someone else.

I immediately reached out to the person involved in the story from last week, apologized, and asked if he would like me to take the article down. He was kind and gracious and said it was fine, and he was glad I consider him a safe person to be real with.

But I still felt a pit in my stomach.

What if the people that report to me are constantly wondering as they tell me something if they’ll see it shared publicly, maybe even in a way that easily traces back to them?

In a series on leadership I wrote a while back, I shared my opinion that trust is the currency of a leader. Everything we do builds or spends that trust.


Jocko calls this concept leadership capital.

I realized that I might be spending that leadership capital even without realizing it. Whether I’m talking with someone, or writing publicly, I need to be aware of the potential impact of what I say.

The people that report to me deserve to feel safe when they talk with me, knowing that I will keep their confidence and protect their privacy.

And not just them. Everyone I interact with deserves that respect.

I have to take extreme ownership of all my communication and the effect it might have on others, irrespective of my intent or motive.

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