I woke up on a lovely morning, cracked open an eye at the alarm signing from my phone. Stumbled upstairs, bathrobe-clad, slunk to the couch, popped open my laptop and got to work. Fast forward twenty minutes and I was humming along. The coffee had hit and the machine was greased.
A glitch in a project. A misunderstanding with a client. A misperception with the hubby, and my day is what? Rolling downhill suddenly.
I decide to get vulnerable. This is my problem. I run from displeasure, anger, loud voices, exclamation marks. I over-explain, get too close because I never learned the balance of talking like a person setting healthy boundaries. It has always been total commitment or run away.
Conflict makes my heart pound. A concerned client sets me on edge. It’s not a huge deal. We are human, whirling around on this planet doing one task consistently, being human together.
I talk to my husband. He is helpful, constant. Realize I have to do what I hate most…let go of control. As if I ever had any.
How quickly we forget. When a disease took ALL my control away and steered my body like a puppet. When I can’t quiet the restlessness and frustration in people’s hearts. But stand by and watch them do their internal work. I remember, in the thick of physical pain and loss I became freed by the thought of refusing to decide my fate. It had been terrifying to unclench my grasp, but then a breath of relief swept through me.
The hardest thing to do is nothing.
I read a book about the personal stories that propelled successful entrepreneurs. Comprehended the message. No one has control and each day your caring, your attitude, your treatment of everyone in your life, be they family, friends, or clients is the biggest offering you can make. You will not be perfect. You will make mistakes even with the best of intentions; you will say the wrong words, fumble when thrown the ball. And this will happen again and again and again.
The tendency that is so hard to resist is to go inward…to close it all down, to move on to something else.
It takes far more courage to try again. Do it anyway. Despite risk.
Taking another stab is what differentiates you from the lot. Because you move passionately throughout life; you defend what you know: your purpose.
The true top tier, the true rising cream will come back for more punches, for more opportunity to grow and stretch and improve. And some days? It will hurt like hell.
How badly do you want it? Can your chops survive the hits? Can you sharpen your skills in the valley? Yes, you can. If you listen. If you validate, if you redouble your focus and get back at it, harder, more diligently. If you let the client lead you into what they want and even when you misstep, you can assure them that you will never stop trying while being unforgivably human.
Critique, miscommunication, these are opportunities cloaked in panic, that when revealed, will give you your greatest gifts: the chance to try once more, but this time, with new information and keener skills.
Realizing this gives you back your supposed power as well.
In the end, I stopped internally reeling, answering, questioning, doubting. I sat with quiet faith in myself amid chastising whispers, that I did not have any reason to think myself above reproach. Who was I to believe that running and growing an entrepreneurship meant there was some sort of magical protection encapsulating me? Was I going to fold the minute I was challenged? If that were the case, why then, wouldn’t I question every professional decision I had ever made, if it led to this moment? Why then…hadn’t I folded already? And if I did, how shallow my hunger to own my achievements must be, how little faith in myself I must have.
I was being ridiculous, but this is where we go. Especially, when we haven’t learned the modeling of how to mediate difficult situations, when our voice naturally wants to shrink instead of speak intelligently as we do the other 99 percent of the time.
What do you do when you stumble instead of soar?
1. Apologize, if necessary. Resist groveling. Take responsibility for what you own.
- Try not to tell the client how emotionally weak and vulnerable you feel.
- Try not to run or get defensive, whatever your visceral response screams.
- Do not make any long-term decisions in this state. Your instinct will be to curl into a ball. You cannot run a business, or participate in a meaningful dialogue in the fetal position.
- If applicable, offer to rectify, to accommodate a last minute meeting, in short, to do what you can to make right whatever is wrong. Even if you are not at fault. Sometimes the only thing you can do is validate. That’s okay.
- After doing the above 1-5, be at peace knowing you have tried your best. That you are not in control of what your client will do or say. And that’s okay, too. Tell yourself you are strong enough to withstand any decisions not of your own making.
- Remember your capacity to survive. Anything. Personally, professionally. We are the receivers of human suffering and this will never change. It is how you handle this suffering and your own tenacity that will assure your greater joy or misery. You have a 100 percent success rate at surviving thus far. We are also, more importantly, the receivers of blessings and bliss.
- Allow this moment to be one of learning. How fortunate you are that you have heard such intimate insight about your efforts, about your partner’s feelings, about the person standing in front of you and trusting you enough to share their feedback.
After it all. Reflect in gratitude. Be thankful for your own power, your heart, your drive and your stamina. They will see you through the toughest times and lead you to the brightest.
Oh, and keep this article handy to lather, rinse and repeat. Because I hate to tell you, but disappointment will happen again. You, however will continue to triumph as long as you keep trying and believing in yourself.
This story has been republished to Medium.
Photo credit: Shutterstock