I was at a dinner party recently with some friends. We were sitting around the fire pit, blissing out on good company, great cheese, wine, and yes of course, good chocolate.
One of the gentlemen there was new to me. As we dug into conversation he shared he’d been unemployed for 8 months and that it had been really hard to find a job. His presence was heavy as he talked about it. The deeper he got into his “story” — with more detail and “he/said/she said”– the heavier his energy got. My own energetic presence felt a pull to go “dark”. I noticed it, bubbled up, and stayed present.
He stopped talking, looked at me, and then with a look of gloom, yet somehow a hint of pride (as if he’d won the prize for having it rough), said, “Ya, can you believe that? How’s that for a s*%$*^ life?”
I asked what he’d done to look for a new job. He said, “Everything”.
I asked if he’d mapped out a vision for what he wanted this next chapter in his life to look like? What would he be doing in it — not just professionally, but in the other areas of his life? Who did he want to become through this challenge? How did he want to feel? How did he want to Show Up?
Él dijo "No" he hadn’t, and that ese seemed like “a lot of woo woo work“.
We switched topics and dug into more conversation with the group. The job thing came up again, but this time with even more heavy energy behind it.
I offered him an exercise I give clients when they’re making a change: Make a list of core criteria and dreams you’d love in your next role/situation, what your ideal job is, what the people you work with are like, what you want, and who you have to become to make it so.
The intention of this exercise is to get clear and take an intentional role in crafting your future. (The party with the clearest and strongest sense of purpose and intention wins.)
He offered back, “I’m sorry, I don’t think it works like that.”
I threw one last ball.
“One last thought if you want it, this could be a really powerful moment in your life, and some powerful space to play with. What are you doing with your time off to make yourself better? Health wise, skills wise, relationships, presence, leadership…”
“Well, I’m too busy looking for a job, I don’t have time for that kind of stuff.”
Ah… got it. I wasn’t being helpful. He was exactly where he wanted and needed to be. I thanked him for sharing, wished him luck, and got back to chocolate.
He needed more time to be exactly where he was at — and I needed to mind my own business.
In the days that followed I thought about his situation and the energy he had around it. I’ve done this work with humans for years, and what I know is this…
Sometimes we need more time in our discomfort. More time in the “struggle”, more time in the “ick” and in our stories. Sometimes we need more time to breathe and feel into what’s here, more time to “claim” what we really want, and to see how we might step into that.
Sometime we need more time to Show Up.
And sometimes Showing Up for ourselves IS allowing ourselves full permission to stay in the struggle.
Over 20 years of doing this work with people, I’ve learned one of the most essential principles of leadership growth is “don’t rob people of their struggle or misery, they need it to grow themselves, on their own time”. Like a butterfly in a chrysalis, if you free it before it’s ready to do it on its own, it dies. It’s not strong enough to survive in the real world. It doesn’t get the learning.
We’re no different.
We need the learning. We need to honor where we’re at. For authentic change, that we can own and sustain, and for becoming who we might become, we need our process.
To rob anyone of that by trying to save them from their struggle or by thinking we know what they need, is actually arrogant.
Intend to serve and contribute — with zero attachment, throw the ball, see where it lands, if it helps — yay; if not, let it go. It’s not yours to say if it’s right or not.
The lovely thing about full permission for struggle and honoring either yourself or someone else, exactly where they’re at, is that once you verdaderamente allow it, it is often the catalyst for shifting out of it. Full permission for being exactly where we’re at, can be the most powerful energetic opener for moving where we want and need to go.
Go forth and grow. Happy Monday.