I stood up to leave a meeting that I was having with my manager this morning and the button on the strap of my Mary Jane-style shoe popped off and landed on the carpet. “Oh, no,” I said out loud. Without the strap secured to the shoe I couldn’t imagine the shoe staying on my foot when I walked, and it didn’t stay on as I hobbled away. After a few failed attempts to fix the strap, first with a paperclip and then with a safety pin, I was at a loss for what to do. With a day full of meetings and no shoe store in site, I wondered how career limiting it would be if I walked around the office bare foot for the rest of the day.
Then, my manager, I’ll call her Felicity because that is her name, offered me her shoes. She was leaving for the day to work at home where she didn’t need them, and of course I should have her shoes. Gobsmacked, I accepted. More astonishing, they fit me. What wonderful person offers up their stylish, expensive-looking shoes? The leader of the HR department and my heroine, that’s who.
I try not to walk around too much because my feet are slightly fatter than hers, and I don’t want to stretch out the black leather straps. I unbuckle them when I’m sitting at my desk during my phone meetings. Taking a mental break, I thought about the shoes giving me magical powers like a super hero. Suddenly, I’m Felicity leading an organization with diplomacy, wisdom and kindness. I take the high road in a conversation with a crazy-maker, make intelligent decisions swiftly to keep a project moving, and give credit and praise to those who work for and near me. I’m a leader… with a cape.
Alas, a bit of fantasy gave me a power moment and a bit of of generosity turned a bad situation into a good one. I placed Felicity’s shoes under her desk when I left that evening and slowly shuffled to my car in my old, broken Mary Janes. Embarrassment from the walk to the parking garage aside, Felicity’s kindness and energy has stayed with me after literally wearing her shoes. The next time someone breaks their shoes at work I will give her the ones off my feet. I’m inspired to be kind and motivated to be a stronger leader myself after walking in Felicity’s shoes, and I have a solid reason to go shoe shopping this weekend.