Your pain and where to put it (to work)

You have stretched your comfort zone, put yourself out there with all of who you are and your potentials for contribution. And it flopped. Nobody cared. Nobody understood. Or you faced outright opposition, criticism or outright ridicule.

This is not an easy move, and the pain of rejection stings like little else, and the more you were open and true to yourself, the deeper it hurts and all you want to do is crawl back inside and hope nobody saw you. Pain (I’m not talking about a sprained ankle) is a guide to something not going well, a warning signal, an invitation to look closer and to do something about it.

Situations like this are key, not only because they disrupt our flow, but because they are such useful pointers to something deeper. It hurts because the situation touched something you deeply and truly care about. Your values: Key principles, truths you hold about life, about humans, about business, family and what is right for you. Often these are not conscious until somebody steps on them, so this is a surefire way of (re)discovering what truly matters.

This is a key part of the learning curve. Refining your approach bit by bit is key to start making better decisions for yourself to align your life more and more with your values.

In situations like these where it gets uncomfortable, first of all take good care of yourself. If you have to actually crawl back inside for a bit, do that. If your integrity gets hurt, stick with it and identify what the line is that got crossed. And then, when you are able to, look at what happened. Take it bit by bit in installments you can handle. What was the “thing” that was hurting? What does it represent that is so important to you? How would you name it? Describe it? Does the pain have a “physical signature” that you recognize? Is there a symbol, metaphor for it? Was that always important in your life? How does “it” normally play out? How is it when it is disrupted? Is that something you recognize as a pattern?

And then start looking into how to make it better. What are things you can do now to make the situation less painful? What are other ways to feed the need you have to get more fulfillment? Can you let others help you? (Often we do get help offered and we don’t take it as we are too submerged in pain to see it. You probably won’t have to carry everything alone so don’t think you have to).

Capture your findings in a journal, sketchbook, scrapbook, music playlist or whatever medium works best for you. These are the things you care about the most. And then start taking concrete steps how to bring them out more in your life.

Pain, however strong it may be, is not your enemy. So, rather than fighting it, put your pain where it belongs. To work. For you.


2021 update: Want to do a more comprehensive exploration? Book out now on Amazon that will guide you step by step with a practical toolkit. Or just ping me.

(This book wouldn’t exist without pain and overcoming it. A lot of stuff that’s out there wouldn’t exist if it was inspired by pain and how to overcome it. It isn’t the only way to get to something, but it is a way. And by doing that it makes the load a bit lighter for others. Be brave and have courage. It will be worth it, some day, and not just for yourself.) 

Recovering from a values conversation that flopped

You wanted to do the right thing. You went out on a limb. You floated a conversation about values. It flopped. Badly. Now all you want to do is take it back so you can hide back into your shell. Pretend nothing happened. Pretend you didn’t just hear and see what you heard and saw.
I have been bruised more times than I can count. Sometimes I learned things about time and place to have these conversations, and I fine-tuned my approach going forward (it takes two…). Sometimes it flopped spectacularly in the here and now. And then a few years later I got feedback by either that person, or people from that orbit, how much of a difference it made, and how that was a massively powerful intervention (sometimes you influence an organization more by leaving than you could by staying). And sometimes the content was right but the form and delivery might have been off, which, too, is a learning opportunity.
Wherever you are, don’t underestimate the amount of reach and radiance a person has with clear values, who stand up for them and for others when they get violated. That is what leaders do – regardless of your job title. Your wingspan is bigger than you think, and you will reach and inspire people even though you might never hear about it. Trust that. 
A note on that: When somebody does that for you, tell them what difference they made. This can be a tough fight and bring on some of the deepest moments of loneliness in the midst of it, as a lot of the crucial conversations are private or in small groups (and often rightfully so). Knowing something you did made a difference for someone else out there is so important to keep the strength to keep going. As a bonus, when you do reach out, these might well be some of the best apprenticeship/mentoring type of conversations you will ever have. Go for it!
Who should you be thanking today?