Next Time Be The Water

by  Jane Perdue  |  Self Leadership
Next Time Be the Water

I’d volunteered for this group for a long time, so I was surprised when the new monthly schedule was released and my name wasn’t on it.

In rapid succession, surprise was replaced by anger, then insignificance, reflection, and finally curiosity.

Years ago, I might have gotten stuck somewhere along that chain. I might have gotten good and mad and declared an intent to take my work elsewhere.

Perhaps I would have felt small and discredited while questioning the value of my contribution, maybe even the value of my being.

Ever felt that way? I’ve learned those are me reactions that take you nowhere good. You get all spun up or sucked into the downward spiral.

You spend countless hours, days, maybe even weeks or months wallowing in non-productive muck that only generates more muck. Muck that obscures the truth. That creates intentions that never existed. That fuels unnecessary ill will. That builds an ever-growing pyramid of unplanned and unintended consequences. All with no basis in reality.

The buried reality is that someone made a mistake. A mistake that had nothing to do with you. Nothing at all. That kind of stuff happens. A lot. And here you made yourself miserable, as well as probably lots of other people around you, taking something personal that wasn’t personal at all. Ah, the time and emotional energy wasted. And nothing productive or good or meaningful to show for it.

Next Time, Think Big – Widen your perspective. Don’t just get out of the box, especially the me one, throw it away. Embrace purposeful discomfort and expand your comfort zone.

Next Time, Be The Water – Let all those emotions flow by. Shake yourself free if you get stuck. Look for and discard judgments that encourage thinking—and feeling—small.

Next time, Own It – Consider the other person’s perspective. Imagine what they might be feeling. If you don’t know, tactfully and gracefully ask.

And expect to hear that you never crossed their mind. In these cases, that’s a good thing. A growth thing. Something I’ve learned to cherish.

How have you learned to be the water?
Photo Credit: Morguefile.com

About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John Smith  |  26 Feb 2015  |  Reply

Very thought-provoking post, Jane.

I appreciate your willingness to use a personal example to illustrate some very important points.

My reaction would initially have been the same as yours: “What did I do wrong?”, followed at some point by “How dare they do this to me?” We are so often captive to our own misconception that it’s all about me.

I used to work therapeutically and have experienced folks who were so wrapped into this worldview that they honestly felt a car accident on the Interstate happened just to make them late to work. These folks are diagnosable, but the tendency toward this type of reaction exists in most of us. We are just able to moderate it and think it out.

I like your “water” analogy. Water is soothing, flows everywhere, and helps one chill out. Then the reframing can begin.

I am struck by the application of what you describe to recent discussions around Milennials in the workplace and their tendency to exhibit this type of self-focused behavior. We had all better pay attention.

Thanks for posting:


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