Sunday, April 22, 2018

Life Lessons for Leaders: The Soft Side of the Pearl

I was thinking today about how the irritations we feel in our work life are rather like pearls. 

I’m sure you learned in school, as I did, about the oyster and pearls.  Oysters just sit around on the ocean bottom, minding their own business, living their life in peace.  Given the makeup of the ocean bottom, occasionally a piece of sand or a parasitic worm will sneak in under the shell.  The oyster gets really irritated when that happens, and immediately sets about covering the piece of intruder up with a substance called nacre.  Over time, enough nacre is created around that tiny piece of sand to create a pearl. 

Pearls are harvested from the sea by divers who bring the oyster to the surface.  When the oyster is opened and the pearl is lifted into the sunlight, it glistens with all the colors of the rainbow.  Pearls are seldom perfectly round, and there are often blemishes on the surface of the pearl.  Artisans called peelers scrape away the blemishes in order to increase the value of the pearl. 

Have you sometimes felt irritated at work – something really gets under your skin?  You work hard to get rid of it, but nothing you do helps.  Irritations at work come in all forms.  It might be a manager, an employee, a co-worker, vendor or client.  Sometimes it is a corporate situation or stance that really gets your blood boiling.  Over time, you may realize that it is time to choose to change the situation to a pearl, to turn it into a positive experience rather than dwell on the negative.  The operative word here is ‘choose’.  It is often the harder path.  It is much easier to let your emotional reactions run rampant and not recognize that each situation is arising so that we might learn a lesson and create a beautiful gem that will last us our entire lives.

We can choose to create pearls of many colors, shapes and sizes:  patience, open-mindedness, determination, wisdom, creativity, humility, empathy, compassion, or intuition.  And, if we are not perfect, but have blemishes in our pearls, someone may come in to our life to help peel them away.  Sometimes we are out of balance, with one side of the pearl being larger than the balancing side, and we are soft and easily scratched.  Just like the pearl.  For example, if our sense of love is over balanced, and not counterbalanced with wisdom, we run the danger of becoming a corporate ‘yes’ person or a doormat for co-workers to walk all over.  If our sense of willfulness outweighs our ability to be understanding, we may make ego driven decisions we will later come to regret. 

We are given many opportunities throughout our day to create pearls.  What pearls would you like to work on today?

Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., specializes in Leadership and Career Coaching.  Her focus is on helping women executives and leaders grow their character-based leadership and collaboration skills in their career, business and personal life, maximizing results with ease and grace.  Connect with Georgia on her website, blog, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, or contact her directly at

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