You can’t rip the skin off a snake. It must rub against something to shed the skin. It enters a liminal realm in the process when it appears to be dead. Then, the shiny new skin is strong enough to move forward into its future.
I often hear people say, “This is hard, I’m confused, I don’t like this, I’m uncomfortable.” I wonder if we have become so comfortable that any discomfort needs to go away (take a pill) and our resistance to the pain of life prevents us from our growth. The obvious metaphor is trying to bring your head to your knees in a stretch. We don’t force it or we would get hurt. If we don’t attempt to slowly breath into the stretch and allow ourselves to move through the discomfort to the possibility of more flexibility, we stay as we are. Is that comfortable?
One of the points of pain I notice in my work is the awareness that emotions are information and they need to be included in the process of professional development. Coaches know that emotions are not symptoms. They don’t need to be fixed, changed, hidden, denied, or judged. They are information that show us where there is meaning. Strong emotions arise when something matters. Many of my clients believe showing emotion at work is wrong. They have received messages along the way, social conditioning, that say there is no place for emotion at work. How then, do we learn to live within a clear emotional perspective that can inform us?
There are many resources available now including EQ assessments, books, programs, models etc. that can teach us emotional intelligence competencies. Daniel Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligence in 1995. Thankfully, it is now being used and taken seriously as a skill set. My longtime fascination is with how uniquely personal and specific this skill development is.
Relationship management is a set of skills, not one skill. That may seem obvious, but not always. I am playing with the assumed polarity of relationships and results. As my clients stand up, imagine a line under their feet representing a continuum from relationships on one end to results on the other, I ask them to walk back and forth along that continuum. They quickly discover their comfort zone. Asking them to move a few steps in the direction of the discomfort is eye opening for them. Without exception, they have an embodied response when they hit the place on the line that feels uncomfortable: “my stomach just tightened, I felt panic in my gut, I just got impatient…” The exploration of the discomfort is where the growth edge is. The discomfort is the indicator of possibility. The next small step into or away from the discomfort is their choice. I am humbled daily by the willingness and courage that show up as they commit to that discomfort for the sake of relationships and results. It gives me even more hope and optimism for our future.