I have never considered myself to be bossy, (having inherited my father’s more conciliatory disposition), but the older I get, the bossier I become.
The women in my family are like that…bossy. They have been bossy for generations in fact.
My great grandmother raised four daughters and, with her husband, ran a dry goods store somewhere in the south of Cornwall. My great grandfather was a handsome devil, with, (I’m told), something of a roving eye. I imagine great grandma must have had to fend for herself on many an occasion. Being bossy probably came in handy.
And there were others:
My maternal grandmother, married a sailor and spent some years raising her three children on her own, while my grandfather served in the Merchant Navy during WWI, and afterwards too. Bossiness was a necessary skill. And, when my grandfather returned home from his travels, and later became ill, Nana took constant care of him. It probably helped for her to be a little bossy then too.
My paternal Grandmother was also a Shopkeeper. She married a man with little ambition, I’m told, and a penchant for gambling and drink. Together they had five sons. During the 1920s and 30s everything was scarce, at least for them. Grandma bought her shop when the opportunity presented. She sold things like bacon and processed meat on one side of it and on the other, tinned goods, cigarettes and the heaven that was chocolate bars and sweets. She raised chickens in her back yard too. Dad often said that if not for his mother, they might have starved. She was determined and focused and yes, probably a little bossy too.
When dad’s parents both became ill with cancer, my Auntie Ethel took care of them. Auntie Ethel was a wonderful woman. On first glance, she might have been described as “homely”. But in every other sense, she was a beauty. It was Auntie Ethel who saw the intelligence in my father and insisted that he go to high school, in spite of opposition from his brothers and perhaps certain indifference from my grandparents. Auntie Ethel was a driving force in my father’s life and he loved her even though, or perhaps because, she was bossy.
My mother defied the convention of the early fifties and sixties by working full-time while having a family. Luckily, my parents had a great partnership, with dad sharing the domestic workload happily. The world however, was not particularly approving of her. When confronted by the Principal of my elementary school about her “duty” to remain home to care for her children, she raised herself up to her greatest height of five foot three and told him to where to go. She was a force to be reckoned with and one who successfully propelled (and yes, bossed) me through my years of excruciating shyness and self-doubt.
When I reflect on these stories, I am reminded that leadership comes in many forms. And sometimes being bossy can be a good thing.
Sometimes you just have to stand up and be counted: tell people what’s what and sort things out. Sometimes it’s the only way to get things done…or survive.
So go ahead, choose your times carefully, but be bossy every now and then. Just don’t be like my Auntie Flossie. She crossed the line into the land of tyranny and my uncle Reg no doubt died before his time, just so he could get some peace.
So, when have you had to stand up and be counted just to get things done?
Who are the people in your life who have propelled you forward?
When do you think it’s a good thing to be bossy?
Oh, and just in case you are on the receiving end of some bossiness, here’s a link that will help you to think through it.