Category Archives: Courage

When We’re Wrong to Accept Ambiguity

In August I wrote a piece called “I Don’t Know.”  about how some people need to always give an answer, even when they clearly have no idea what they’re talking

man who has fallen off the front of a surfboard, two feet protruding upward on either side of the board, body submerged.

Some people hide from the truth, preferring a murky and unsustainable existence while missing the great experiences and view in front of them.

about. Today I address the flip side of that to talk about how some people lock ambiguity in a bear hug and hold on to it for dear life.

They engage in a Gregorian chant of “I don’t know. They claim a need for irrefutable proof in order to accept the truth. They call this certainty, or even closure. For instance, when a terrible event like the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center leaves no reason to believe there are any additional survivors, some family members insisted Herculean efforts be made to find and identify the remains before they would accept that their loved one had died. It is the same with widespread natural disasters, horrific plane crashes, fires, or a building collapse.

Insisting on irrefutable truth gives us the excuse to stay stuck where we are in our grief and pain and anger. We hold on to a shred of imagined uncertainty so that we do not have to move forward. We close the door to what is and stay mired in what was. Continue reading

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Venting a Problem Won’t Solve It – but This Will

A couple of weeks ago I was on the phone with a friend and at some point I said, “I just need to tell you something.”

geyser shooting 100 feet in the air, blue sky

We can let off steam in a spectacular display of force and, while venting feels good inside, do nothing to change the cause of our problem.

I then proceeded to tell her about an issue I was having that involved someone else.

After I had shared my frustration over the situation we went on with our main conversation. Afterwards, I wondered why had I done that in the first place?

After a bit of thinking, I realized that while she wasn’t part of the problem, in fact she was an important part of the solution because she had acted as a trusted advisor. She listened well, she empathized, and she helped me explore the situation with the intention of resolving it.

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Demotion Emotion

Whether it’s called a “reorganization,” a “reclassification” or even a “reassignment,” if it results in a loss of responsibility or a downgrade in title, or someone with a more prestigious title is placed over you, then you know that they really mean is that you’ve been demoted.

male golfer hitting a ball out of sand trap, sand spraying widely, terrible form

A career doesn’t always follow the direction we picture it will. We stay true to ourselves when we take set-backs in stride and continue working toward our goal.

Being demoted hits the ego harder than almost anything else that can happen in our professional lives. It’s the combo burrito of a bad performance review and a pay cut, with a side order of spotlight because everyone knows about it, and for dessert, you get to keep showing up at the office, possibly working for the person who has replaced you.

When an unwelcome job change happens to you, you have three options. Continue reading

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