We all remember the ads.

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

It was an encouragement to cut loose.  Make mistakes.  And leave it all behind when the trip is over.

For years, I’ve called my office “Vegas.”  When the door closes, it’s a cue that what is said in the room, stays in the room.

As a leader, I believe it is critical to have that safe place.  For my team, and myself.

We all have filters.  There’s what we can say to our spouse.  Or our child.  Our team.  Or our manager.

While we can attempt to live leadership in all aspects of our lives, we must be mindful of our surroundings.

When I’m home and little ears are listening, I phrase things differently than when my husband and I are alone.

In my manager’s office, there is a difference for both of us when the door is open versus when it is closed.

When I walk the floor, I will engage members of the team in conversation.  Maybe share an anecdote or a laugh.  Nothing is said that I would mind someone from another team overhearing.  In my office, however, the filters are left at the door.

Sometimes, our people need to say words that are not appropriate in public.  Other times, they need to hear us say such words on their behalf.

In the privacy that a closed door represents, I’ve heard more than one executive drop the occasional f-bomb.  Each time, as they started to apologize, I’d lightly chuckle.  “I thought I was the only one.”

I worked with Marines for years and there’s not much I haven’t heard.  Oddly, I started to hear more colorful language when I went into the civilian sector.  In the past few years, however, it’s all but tapered off.

Except behind closed doors.  Where people feel safe to say what they are really thinking.  Even if it’s colorful.  Especially if it’s colorful.

Some may say that foul language is a sign of ignorance.  I believe those same words may be the only way someone knows how to share emotions difficult to put into words.  It could be frustration, anger or hopelessness.  I could also be passion, conviction or determination.

If those words are the best ones to describe how someone is feeling in that moment, isn’t it better that they come out in a safe place?  Rather than somewhere they shouldn’t?

Someone once told me that negative emotions are like jello.  Imagine what happens when you squeeze a handful of jello.  If you try to keep negativity in, it will go anywhere it can.  However it can.  And make a big ole mess along the way.

Creating Vegas – a place where you and your teams can express yourselves in a way that honors your thoughts and feelings – means a place where you can let it out and leave it behind.  Leave it so you can do the right thing, the right way, when you return to the job at hand.


Do you have a “Vegas” in your work or home life?  Somewhere you can let the filters go?  I’d love if you could share your thoughts in the comments and keep the conversation going.