On a lazy Sunday afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw a post that blew my mind.

It surprised me: I learnt that using a certain word – a word that I’ve no doubt used – was actually a slur.

It educated me: I learnt something about a culture that I had no real or decent knowledge about.

It reminded me: Maya Angelou, Poet, Playwright and Author, says,

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

So, what was it that surprised, educated and reminded me?

The term gypsy is a racial slur against Romani people. 

The Facebook post was from someone wanting feedback about their product – a reflective journal – in which she used the word gypsy in the title. While many praised her work, there was one person who provided a polite comment to educate about the use of the word. This person also included this informative article.

The person who posted asking for feedback was gracious and appreciative of the information. Some others in the feed had a mix of responses, and you can imagine the ‘rabbit holes’ that the conversations then went down.

This situation reminds me that, as leaders, we do not know everything and we will, from time to time, be confronted with new information that might surprise us: some times some thing might even be a little confronting. I spent quite some time trying to think when I have used the word, how apologetic I was because, while I couldn’t recall using it, I’m 100% sure I have. I was ignorant. It is in that moment, where our self-leadership will help us to lead ourselves and others well:

  • Great self-leadership is about being a life long learner and having a curious and open mind. 
  • Great self-leadership is about reflecting on how new learning can impact and improve thinking, decisions and behaviour.
  • Great self-leadership includes strong emotional intelligence so that when confronted with one’s own behaviour you can accept responsibility, apologise and move forward (forgive yourself).
  • Great self-leadership is about being open to actively changing one’s attitude and language in order to strengthen relationships.

It’s not a big leap to realise that when these elements are in play they will have a positive impact on leading others.


How do you handle it when you learn something new that throws you a little –  when something surprises you, educates you and compels you to change? I’d love to know.