What Is the Point of Struggling?

leadership tipsBy now most of you are aware that I published a very personal book, Learning Leadership Through Loss, at the end of March.  When I saw “my baby” on Amazon and Kindle for the first time, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.  I also felt a certain amount of relief that I’d actually completed such a complex, long term project.  A lot of books get started, but many never get done.

After I wrote the first draft of chapter 3, I realized the honeymoon was over.  Writing a book is hard work!  I saw that it required superb organizational skills, weekly time blocking, unexpected sacrifice, and a great deal of persistence.  After checking in with myself, I saw that somewhere along the line I’d slipped into the space of struggle.  Intuitively, I knew that wasn’t good.

Honestly, I didn’t want a fight.  I didn’t want to be stressed out.  I didn’t want to feel like I was carrying concrete slabs on my back.  I just wanted to enjoy the process of creating the book that was right for me and my business.  If I bought into the struggle, I trusted I’d be able to complete my book.  But deep inside I understood that I might resent every hour of typing at the computer.   And even worse?  I probably wouldn’t like the finished product.

Seriously, before moving on I needed to ditch the struggle.  So do YOU.  Take a look at my feature article below to read examples of the struggles we choose, allow, and manufacture at work.

Substitutes for Struggle

Over the last seven years I’ve heard scores and scores of client struggle stories. While all of them have involved different people and situations, they’ve had something major in common:  negative energy.  Believe me, I’ve thrashed around in the pool of struggle too–more often than you’d guess.  It’s an exhausting, dark place.  You don’t have to go there.  Or stay there.  Let me show you what to say and do instead.

I’m struggling to make a certain decision. Do you say that?  If so, try this:  “I’m in the process of making a decision about X.”  Believe that you are capable of making that decision.

I’m struggling to make sense of this. This is an over-used expression.  You could say:  “I don’t understand this complex process, and I’m willing to do what it takes to acquire the level of understanding I need.”  Trust that this can happen.

I’m struggling to follow that advice. There’s no need for strain and strife.  You could ask:  “How is your advice going to help me reach my goal?”  Demonstrate genuine interest in the person’s explanation.

I’m struggling to connect the dots. Are you someone who says this on a regular basis?  Try this instead:  “I’m taking my time connecting these important dots.”  Seek clarity and believe you can do it.

I’m struggling to find an answer. Most questions have multiple answers; most problems have several solutions.  Consider using the following language:  “I’m looking at a number of options now.”  Be curious about what is possible.

I’m struggling to understand your point. How often do you say this?  Use different words such as:  “Although in this moment I don’t understand your point, I’m open to learning more.”  Remain in a neutral space.

I’m struggling to get everything done before I go home.  Does this sound like you?  You may want to stop and substitute this:  I’m getting a lot done today and joyfully anticipate crossing the last item off my “to do” list by 5:00 PM.”  Stay focused.

Altering your state of being, your language, and your actions as they relate to struggle takes practice.  You’ve spent a life time being, talking, and behaving in certain ways.  Of course all of it is deeply ingrained.  But like a rotten tooth, the stuff that doesn’t serve you can be pulled and replaced.  Start with a commitment.

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