A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Excess Baggage

“We cannot hold on to things and enter.”  Mark Nepo


I carry a bit of baggage. 

Ok, to be honest, I carry a ton of it.  However, today a friend gently reminded me that perhaps I should leave my baggage behind so I can move freely forward.

Baggage – it comes in many forms. 


  • Regret
  • Anger and Resentment
  • Need for Perfection
  • Lack of Forgiveness


As a leader, we need to set a good example for our staff, for our peers, for our boss.  Indeed, everyone is watching a leader and thus, leaders need to model good behavior at all times.


Carrying baggage around is not good behavior.


How many of us spend mental energy kicking ourselves in the butt for what we did or failed to do?  Perhaps it’s an uncomfortable relationship because of something we said or failed to say?  Perhaps it’s the position we’re in because of risks we took or failed to take?  We worry about these things, we over-analyze them, we read too much into them, etc.

In doing so, we give our regrets power over our current thoughts and our future actions.  When we carry the suitcase of regret, we tell our staff that it’s ok to perseverate on the past.


How many of us allow our anger and frustration to mold our behaviors at work?  Maybe we withhold positive recognition for someone because he pissed us off last week?  Maybe our jealousy prohibits us from sharing in another one’s achievements?  Maybe we are too caught up in our own pity party that we fail to realize someone else needs our empathy and compassion?

As leaders, we must appreciate that carrying around bags of anger and resentment will empower others to fill their sacks up as well.



How many of us are burdened with the feeling of failure when perfection evades us?  Surely we could have done better!  Next time, next time!  But alas, perfection is an elusive creature and we fail again.  In the end, we allow our need/desire for perfection to rob us of any recognition for our accomplishments.

As a result, our carry-ons send a clear message to our staff: good is not good enough; you must win; you must be error free; you must be perfect in order to be of value here.


How many of us struggle with turning the other cheek?  Perhaps our skin still burns with the offense?  Maybe we think we’re being “just” by continuing to hold something over one’s head?  Surely we believe our cold shoulder, our lack of trust, our sarcasm and “snarky”ness will help the other learn and grow.  HA!  Denying forgiveness is like oversized baggage on a continental flight – it comes with a hefty price!

Failing to forgive breeds discontent, invites distrust and fear, and disables any chance of engagement, learning and satisfaction.

Baggage – it comes in many forms. 

The above examples are mine.  And the truth is…

I cannot hold on to them and enter.

I must let them go, open the door and
carry only what I need over the threshold
if I am to be a good leader.


What are you holding on to?



Employee EngagementEmployee RelationsFairnessForgivenessHappinessLeadershipPerfectionRecognitionRegretRetentionValueWorkforce Satisfaction

Heather Kinzie • April 26, 2012

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