For most of my life I have put people on pedestals, only to knock them off when they behaved as humans do. Additionally, I have watched how dangerous it is to be a leader who assumes the role and puts themselves on a pedestal.
I have spent many years soul searching to understand why I did this; it was because as I child, I desperately wanted approval that I didn’t receive. So, in adulthood I would set myself up for failure in this area by attempting to gain that approval from the Guru of the moment, whomever that was. However, prior to them truly approving of me or not, I would knock them off the pedestal, so I wouldn’t have to deal with my fear of not being approved of.
The greatest example in my life of leadership and kindness and someone I never knocked off the pedestal—as I believe I was too young to place this person on a pedestal—was Rabbi Yitzhok Scheiner. When I was 14 years old, I was roaming the country of Israel and somehow my brother-in-law found me and invited me to spend the Shabbos with him. I was a bit upset, as I was planning on going to Eilat, a beach town, and he wanted me to stay in Jerusalem, which at the time was far less appealing to me.
Yet I decided to say yes, and I spent the Shabbos with my brother-in-law. To say I didn’t fit into the crowd would be an understatement. We had Friday night dinner with Rabbi Scheiner at his home, and I will never forget the experience. The Rabbi treated me as one of his own, and he treated me as though I belonged; he didn’t put me on a pedestal like I was someone who needed special attention, nor did he denigrate me.
The love, and his ability to see me was a true gift.
We often put people on pedestals—or at least, I do—so I don’t have to teach myself, so I don’t have to look at how I can make others feel loved, so I don’t have to take responsibility for myself.
I think the lesson is two-fold: to truly accept and love someone as a leader, we need to see our people and not put ourselves on pedestals. Additionally, when someone else puts us on a pedestal, let’s share our humanity with them. Let’s not allow them to think that just because we have a leadership role, it doesn’t mean we are gurus or should be placed on pedestals.
This week, let’s offer the gift of being seen to others. Don’t put them on a pedestal, treat them with love, kindness, and as one of your own.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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