Collaborating with My Hair


I have been working on my relationship with my hair over the past few years, and I think we may finally have come to some agreement about important issues. Length. Part. Frequency of shampooing.  Curl deciding to be under or over.

I thought I wanted long hair so I could put it up when I exercise or work in the yard and have it long and glamorous for other occasions.  But I forgot that my hair, like me, was getting older, and it didn’t want the same things it wanted in my younger days.  It is thinner and dryer, as hair tends to be when we get older. So the hair protested. It lay too flat on top of my head until I surrendered to a side part rather than a center part. I tried to torture it with a curling iron to curl under, but by midday it would be a flip again.  I wanted it to lie still, and it wanted to wisp and frizzle, especially during and after physical activity and also on humid southern days, which we have a lot of in South Carolina. I wanted to pull it back in a barrette or a pony tail holder or a headband, and it refused to stay put.

I’d like to say my hair and I have a truce rather than a surrender.  After two years of growing it out under the supervision of my hairdresser, I gave up the idea of being able to put my hair back or up. I had it cut to just below the ears.  I wash it every other day rather than every three days.  I use the curling iron sparingly, the mousse and hair spray liberally.

My attempt to impose my will on my hair was a useful life lesson in collaboration.  I do a lot of collaborating in writing and in various leadership roles. Sometimes I work with people who are content to let me make decisions, other times with those who want to be totally in charge.  Then there are those gems who understand collaboration and are willing to engage in the give and take and compromise that leads to a win-win outcome where everybody gets something, gives something up, and is satisfied with the outcome. I love those people. I gravitate to them, which isn’t exactly fair to those who aren’t constituted the same way. And I try to practice and model that kind of healthy collaboration, sometimes successfully, other times not.  Like my hair, I am a work in progress.

And that is the life lesson I learned from my hair.




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