You can be sensitive and struggle and still lead with soul …

…and write sensational speeches.

Jacinda Ardern departed this week as New Zealand’s Prime Minister.  Her valedictory speech is testament to the power of being highly sensitive.

I’ve watched from afar as she brought humanity to politics with her response to terrorism, a deadly volcano and the pandemic.  Being genuine, being authentically herself.

So it was with her last speech.  Personal, thoughtful, engaging.  Honest,  grateful to those who’d accompanied her on the journey, and acknowledging her sensitivity.

Here are some excerpts:

It [taking on the leadership of her party] was a cross between a sense of duty to steer a moving freight train, and being hit by one.  And that’s probably because my internal reluctance to lead was matched only by a huge sense of responsibility”.  High level – but a typical HSP dilemma!

I am sensitive.  Or [as I was once called], a precious petal… I didn’t change.  I leave this place as sensitive as I ever was.  Prone to dwell on the negative.  Hating Question Time so deeply that I would struggle most days to eat beforehand.  And I am here to tell you, you can be that person, and be here.”

“I am a crier and a hugger.  It’s instinctive to me… I would rather be criticised for being a hugger than being heartless… You can be that person, and be here”.

“I cannot determine what will define my time in this place.  But I do hope I have demonstrated something else entirely.  That you can be anxious, sensitive, kind and wear your heart on your sleeve …  You can be all of these things, and not only can you be here, you can lead.  Just like me.”

So let’s celebrate our sensitivity and not apologise for it.  It makes us who we are.

It might mean that, like Jacinda, we struggle and that – because of how much we give of ourselves – our time in a job has a shelf life.  But that’s OK because for me – and most HSPs I’ve met – it’s quality that matters.

Jacinda’s leadership was inspiring – it showed what could be done, with heart and humility rather than bullying and bluster.

She showed what being highly sensitive in the public eye looks like.  Thank you, Jacinda, for all that you did, all that you are and all that you said as you left.