Expectations and Reality – Part Two

This is the final part of my post on expectations and reality. Part one is here, on setting realistic expectations as a leader or for yourself.

Rumbling with Reality

Even with realistic expectations, what happens when the result falls short? You can’t change what happened. It is what it is. All true, but we’re left with a choice. A choice of perception. What direction do you want to accept your reality? Up or down? We can choose to anguish over the less than desired outcome or be grateful there is any outcome at all. Even if it was a complete disaster, some fail to even try.

Every year the Olympics are here, old articles and research sprout up on the happiness levels for each athlete on the podium. Through decades of research, they’ve found that bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists despite their final ranking. Bronze medalists choose the upward state of reality that they made it to the podium, that they beat the dozen other athletes behind them.

Silver medalists, while excited, didn’t get gold. They choose the downward state of reality. They were that close to be being number one. The fact they beat thirteen other Olympic athletes is ignored and so begins the what ifs. If only they could have ran a little faster, scored a couple more points, could they be on top. The point spread between Gold, Silver, and Bronze is infinitesimal, normally a few milliseconds or hundredths of a point. That’s the reality. They all did amazing so one would think their happiness is proportionally equal. The choice of mindset is what makes the difference.

Our Reality is Our Choice

We have the same choice as world-class athletes when we’re faced with outcomes. We can choose to see the downsides, the shortfalls, or the achievements that exist in the contours of them. There’s a reframing of reality that has to happen that is much harder than just being optimistic or “looking on the bright side”. Optimism is an attitude. It’s maintaining energy and hopefulness throughout the process even when not everything goes how you expected. Once we get to the end though, what is there left to be optimistic about? Next time? Sure, it’ll be better then but you still have to manage the first one.

Reframing our reality is understanding the meaning, recognizing the growth and progress made along the way. It removes the what if questions and rewards us presence, to Show Up in the moment. For trivial outcomes, reframing can be effortless and you’re able to shrug it off. Larger outcomes like career changes, tough feedback, and losses take more effort, more mindfulness to see though it to the end. The larger the gap between expectations and reality, the more difficult it is to reframe the situation.

When reality hits hard, the emotional triggers are immediate – disappointment, anger, and regret. These are unavoidable but choosing the reality you subscribe to lessens the time they are felt. Choosing the upward state of reality shifts our mindset from disappointment to determination for next time, from anger to acceptance, and from regret to reflection. When mindfulness is practiced, the quicker it gets until both the emotions and reframe happen simultaneously.

To help, weight the importance of the outcome against your own life. Ask yourself if this would matter in a week? A month? How about a year or five? So much of our angst comes from feeling like it must be right in this very moment. That what happens today or this week is premonition for the next six months. In truth, what happened today doesn’t flow into tomorrow so long as you’re willing to shift your mindset, choose a better reality, and move on.

Ready, Expect, Reframe

Expectations versus reality. A continuous battle we all share. Start on the right foot by setting realistic expectations that make sense to you. Don’t be fooled by society’s expectations. As new information comes in, stay optimistic but adjust your expectations accordingly. When reality knocks and the outcome is absolute, your choice is your mental state. Think like a bronze medalist. The sooner you can reframe and reorient your reality, the better off you’ll be.

Expectations and Reality – Part One

This is the first of a two-part series.

Step into the Unknown

Clouds of anticipation and expectations fill the air. With the decision made and research done, the conclusion has been reached that success can be achieved. Besides, others have completed it even within a time crunch, so it can’t be too demanding. Affirmations of I got this is on repeat in the mind. The steps have been read carefully and will be executed verbatim. As progress begins, it hasn’t gone exactly as planned, yet optimism stands. There is nothing more that can be done except to patiently wait.

Finally, the first result. They’re adequate but the next steps require more finesse and the confidence has faded slightly. At moments, there’s some confusion, possibly thoughts of giving up. Success! With the hardest part over, excitement has returned, and the finishing touches are taken of with ease. In a couple hours, during a night of board games and drinks, they’ll be brought back out…to be eaten.

The Reveal

This was the experience of my wife’s first attempt at making Boston Cream Pie Éclairs, inspired by our binge watching of The Great British Baking Show. If you’ve never seen the show, regardless if you’re a baker or not, you should. It is refreshingly genuine and humorous, absent of the over-the-top drama that would exist in an American baking competition and it is not uncommon for bakers to assist other bakers if they can. Wholesome entertainment.

During one episode in the technical challenge, where bakers are asked to create a challenging dessert armed only with a vague recipe, they needed to make Raspberry and Salted Caramel Éclairs. The challenge is also timed leaving a small margarine of error. Baking pun joke +1. While watching, Éclairs sounded delightful and we both enjoy Boston Cream Pie so she set out and gave it a shot.

The Choux Pastry straight from the oven

There’s two major components of an Éclair. One, the Choux Pastry. A delicate pastry, that’s golden brown, puffy, and hollow to allow the second part, the Creme Pat to be piped in. The final touch to ours was a dip in melted chocolate. Now that you know what the product is, go back and re-read the first two paragraphs and you can visualize the prep, waiting, wondering, and excitement.

The Choux Pastry came out not as puffy as she would have hoped and ultimately made a second batch. Those came out better, yet their shape left something to be desired. The Creme Pat was riskier, since while whisking there’s a chance the eggs will become scrambled. It did not, and as a batter of fact, baking pun joke +2, I think my wife was proudest of that.

Engaging with Expectations

Her first endeavor at baking a new dessert that was technically challenging wasn’t an overwhelming success, but it wasn’t a catastrophe either. Before she started her expectations were probably somewhere in the middle of “I could be on The Great British Baking Show” and “I just knead to stick to cookies,” baking pun joke +3…I’ll stop now. In the end, what was envisioned closely resembled the final product, or reality. But that isn’t always the case.

The finished product at game night!

We’ve all seen pictures online of the cake expected to look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid turn out to be a red-headed medusa. Or right now, where my expectation was to sit comfortably on our couch and write, only to be nudged, pawed, whined, and whimpered at, let alone see what I’m typing from my dog who thinks the closer she is to human, the less the sky will make booming noises during a thunderstorm.

There are countless memes expressing this relationship for just about anything. Sleeping, college, working from home, exercise, and hanging out with friends are just a few. Usually the square depicting reality for hanging out with friends is blank which for me is accurate. No activity is safe from the comparison of expectations versus reality and it speaks to how universally shared this experience is.

We’ve seen them, we’ve been there, and whatever it is, it doesn’t feel great expecting a certain outcome and the reality ends up being wildly different. Humorous as it can be online, or your own character cake gone wrong, expectations versus reality can lead to disappointment, regret, confusion, and frustration. When it’s larger scale expectations like a new job or new responsibilities within a job, the feelings are exacerbated. Expectations versus reality can be tough to accept and manage through but with careful planning and mindfulness, we can reduce the tension between the two.

Great Leaders Are Proactive

We feel friction whenever expectations aren’t met and part of that is deciding on what exactly those expectations should be. Great expectations are realistic, meaning challenging yet attainable. As a leader, it’s crucial to proactively set realistic expectations but many fall short. On the extreme ends, having someone set an impossible bar is exhaustive, deflating, and can feel stagnant.

Setting expectations isn’t a dictatorship,
nor is it an anarchy.

Leaders who set low or no expectations are equally as frustrating. Leaders who set no expectations might have a lack of commitment, abdicating their responsibilities to do so. Leaders who set low expectations, can be afraid to because they see it as too authoritative. The truth is expectations are different than demands. Expectations provide a sense of order and clarity. Setting low ones leads to disengaged teams and these teams are more likely to go off script, create their own expectations that may not be aligned with the organizations goals along with spending company time and money. Setting expectations isn’t a dictatorship, nor is it an anarchy.

Realistic expectations means giving enough challenge with appropriate support. If you’re looking to set an expectation, there’s a few questions you could consider seeing if it realistic or not:

Would this energize or exhaust them?
Do they have the necessary skills?
Do they have all the resources?
Does their workload allow for this?

The answer to all of these doesn’t have to be yes. In fact, some should at least be maybe or partly. We want to provide enough challenge to teams to stretch their confidence beyond their comfort zone. To be able to feel what it’s like to swim in the deep end, not to sink. The support given from leadership is their floaties. If they currently don’t possess the skills, what can you do to get them there? If their current workload is unmanageable, what can be taken off them? Unrealistic goals can become realistic if there is enough support from leadership.

Our Own Expectations

Not only are expectations set onto us, we set our own. Setting realistic expectations for ourselves can be difficult. Given the same task, we’re likely to set the expectation on execution higher for ourselves than we would on another person. Just as before, a challenge is appropriate but impossible is not. Impossible teeters into perfectionism, an unhealthy standard set on ourselves.

Layered on top of our own is the external pressures of societal expectations. People with low self-esteem are more susceptible to these. It can be seamless to transition an external expectation to one of your own. The best example is any combination of marriage, children, and age. Everyone has their opinion of “the right time” and secretly wonder what’s going on if you don’t meet that requirement. Learning to separate external expectations from internal motivators takes reflection. Is this something I want? Why do I want it? Does it coincide with my long-term goals and vision? Expectations need to be realistic for you and only you.

Kindergarten Creates Leaders

Recently, I inherited a few boxes from my childhood that my parents kept. It would have been a cinch to take them out of the car, up the stairs, and into our attic space. So naturally they went out of the car and onto the garage floor. A month later they moved up the stairs in front of the closet with the attic door. A week passed and I continued to tell myself that I did not have the time to move them.

Paradoxically what I did find time for was to open one up and flit through the various documents for an hour. The contents were neatly organized and reflected various artworks, stories, and projects from my schooling in chronological order. The cover photo is just one of the many exquisite creations from my obvious gifted talent with the crayon.

Now, we’re not here to discuss what could have been a successful artist career, or how procrastination takes many forms from avoiding physical exertion to reminiscing. The spotlight today is on curriculums throughout school grades. From my box, I discovered my outline from kindergarten. Here’s a section of it.

Discontinued Education

These are all crucial to comprehend at an early age but what I found upsetting is that very quickly, once outside of the first few years, curriculums begin funneling into core subjects. Mathematics, reading comprehension, writing, history, and sciences. These subjects are repeated and expanded on every year. Before you learn calculus, you need to know algebra. Before you learn to write, you need to spell.

However these soft skills from kindergarten, disappeared as quickly as they came. Are these subjects so impressionable that we only have to be taught once? Such skills like “adjust to new situations,” “listen while others are talking,” and “work cooperatively in groups” are ones adults continue to struggle with and I’d argue that these are not only invaluable as grown-ups but necessary for any aspiring leader.

Take a moment to consider what attributes you admired most in your past leaders. Were they supportive by listening more than they spoke? Led productive and engaging meetings? Did they treat your team equally despite personal attitudes and assumptions? Did they share credit when it was due?

Today, we might not share toys or make the quiet sign when it isn’t our turn but when leaders exude these skills, we remember. We need more leaders with a heightened focus on their kindergarten lessons but the gap between primary school and leadership is colossal. We’re never graded on them again. A foundation that isn’t built upon and yet we expect everyone in a supervisory position to inherently possess. Taking turns creates self-awareness. Listening to others develops into empathy. Working cooperatively is part of motivation. Getting along with others is knowing personality types and cultivating emotional intelligence.

Welcome to Adult Kindergarten

Injecting this into the workplace isn’t unrealistic as one might think. One company takes their kindergarten skills so seriously, it is embedded in their hiring, how they operate, and how they succeed. Menlo Innovations is a software company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Cofounder and CEO Richard Sheridan details the structure and success of their extraordinary company in his book Joy, Inc. Before starting his own company, Richard struggled with the standard software development process. It was rifled with miscommunication, redoing work, crunch time, and overspending. All to produce a product that was not what the client needed or too technical to be useful.

By starting Menlo, Richard cultivated a better culture where developers work in pairs on the same computer. The accountability that it brings to each project is incredible and its byproduct is quality beyond expectations. It all starts with their hiring process where they bring in groups of candidates, thirty to fifty at one time. They’re split into pairs and given a series of tasks to complete. Current employees affectionately called “Menlonians” observe each pairs progress but completion isn’t the primary benchmark. They’re looking for high marks in kindergarten skills. Does one person, in pursuit of their own success, dominate the conversation and execution? These attitudes don’t belong at Menlo. They look for the ones that share ideas, listen, disagree in a healthy way, and shows respect for others.

The company even has a process called Show and Tell where their clients review the work done and present it back to the developers. Menlo is living proof that sharing and caring has a need in the workplace. There are more examples of sharing in the book’s pages such as project management through index cards and daily stand-ups with a Viking helmet.

Emotional Health at School

If a company can prioritize these skills, so can we within our teaching. It is not that the core subjects aren’t important. I read and write everyday. Math is mandatory in my career. I can apply the scientific method to unknown situations. Where I believe the opportunity exists for exposure to emotional health and leadership is within these curriculums.

History walks us through past events to better understand our current world. We write papers on the different battles of the Revolutionary War and the Civil Right Movements but all in third person. Could we still measure comprehension if the assignment was in first person? Telling the events of the Revolutionary War through a soldier in George Washington’s army? Marching along with MLK Jr.? When we’re unable to experience an event but can connect to the same thoughts and feelings from our own experiences, it is empathy.

Writing gives us prompts from creative writing where the more imaginative and outlandish the better to book reports on Of Mice and Men and The Catcher in the Rye. For a moment, the prompt can be “How are you feeling today? Describe how that is impacting you.” A moment for self-awareness.

Science teaches us the rain cycle, the physics of motion, animal kingdoms, and mixing compounds. School labs are usually in pairs or groups but to further deepen motivation and cooperation, could one student owns the instructions and the other completes them?

Another early artwork. Is my house on train tracks? Those rain drops are larger than the roof. Scale is subjective you know.

Arranging the Mental Boxes

Kindergarten was a very long time ago and the artworks, letters, and activities are either lost or tucked away in an attic box for another generation. Those first lessons could also be shoved in a corner of our mental attic. Behind the Pythagorean Theorem, Abraham Lincoln’s presidential election year, noble gases, and MLA format. It’s worth it to rearrange our boxes to where self-awareness and personal skills are brought to the forefront and can be practiced daily. The demand for better leaders is a constant one. Reinforcing emotional health beyond primary school is our way of increasing the supply.

New Rules of the Blame Game

When situations go awry, we search for reasons why and direct, maybe even obvious, causes feel more rewarding than interconnected and complex ones. At times, we might apply an obvious cause to a complex situation. When we do, one of the easiest causes is someone else. Human infallibility is fickle. When we decide we’re right, all others are suddenly wrong with little evidence for the contrary. All others are suddenly blameworthy.

Situation Over Character

When we point at someone else, we play the absolved. We attempt to remove ourselves from all participation so that we can’t be the problem. Unfortunately, it also means then we’re not the solution. Subscribing to this mentality can quickly turn our blame into more than what it should be as blame is a prerequisite to judgement. We extrapolate our blame from the particular situation and apply it towards the person, unfairly and disproportionately characterizing them. News flash – being at fault doesn’t equal faulty character.

Let’s say you’re on a team overloaded with projects and another team member makes a crucial error that ultimately you’ll have to resolve. What can play out in our heads is this:

“Oh no, Lucy sent the wrong list of clients to the team to request information from.
I’m already so far behind on my projects and this is just another thing I have to fix.
How could she have been so careless? She can be so lazy!”

Unfairly characterizing is a justification for your own blame. Lucy is lazy and therefore, it wouldn’t be out of character for her to mess up like this. This way, when you dole out blame, you believe it to be just and fair.

Positive Blame

You’ve heard that blaming isn’t kind and that “it’s no ones fault.” There are few circumstances where that is fact. Natural disasters for example, but at best it is a small gesture people say when something does in fact go wrong to make us feel better. In reality, across everything that could go wrong, how often is truly no one at fault? A miscommunication between co-workers leads to fire drills. A disagreement between loved ones feels like a tornado tore through the house. In both situations, there is fault to be had.

Blame though, can be productive with the proper mindset. It can actually strengthen relationships, provide teams clarity of roles, and reverse assumptions. Traditionally we think of blame as rude and demoralizing and on the receiving end, it’s belittling and upsetting. It’s tough to not feel a tinge of regret, even when you don’t care too much for the accuser. The path towards better blame is two-fold.

Division of Blame

To begin with, blame becomes manageable if it is split. I recently heard a story of a group of co-workers that had reached the boiling point on a situation where no one seemed to be listening or working to improve. It culminated in a large meeting that was honest, emotional, and necessary for them to ever move forward. While I was listening to them recount the past events, from my view, it seemed as though all of the blame was being put towards one individual. They weren’t being direct in their words, “It was Mark’s fault,” but instead it came through as should haves.

“Mark should have done this.”
“Mark should have told us earlier.”

In these situations, I find it an incredible oversight to put all the blame in one basket. The entire fallout of a team is not on the shoulders of Mark. He likely played a major role but I’d venture not 100%. What if instead we assign Mark 60% of the blame so as to ensure he remains the majority but now, there is opportunity across the whole team.

Most importantly, there is opportunity for yourself. How much is on me? 20%? 30%? We’re generally resistant to blame ourselves as we view it as an all or nothing but you’ll find it more palatable to blame yourself for only a fraction of the situation.

Party of Two

Let’s for a moment step outside of a team dynamic and apply splitting blame within a relationship of two where you’re forced to bear some blame. Keep in mind this isn’t an exercise of self-loathing but self-awareness and perception. Perceptions of just how much percentage one owns as your estimate might be very different than theirs. This example happened not too ago between my wife and I…

Normally, I handle the bills but the date slipped past. Prior to that date, while my wife was re-organizing, she moved this particular bill to another area in the house. Since I was looking in the normal location for bills, this could have attributed to my forgetfulness. During our conversation, I claimed 80% blame. My defense was the remaining was hers on account of the relocation. From my wife’s point of view or, based on her perception, she believes it should be 95/5% split.

The difference? She remembers telling me that she did in fact move the bill. I clearly forgot that tidbit as well and accepted her proposal. The other 5% that was hers? We both know I have a tendency of a one-track mind. Great for focusing, so long as I’m focusing on the right things. When she told me, I was distracted by my own task at hand. Rather than assuming I heard and understood, she could have taken the extra time to confirm.

A Cautionary Tale

A note in language. Relationships are unique and need to be handled as such. Actually conferring different percentages of blame might be too forthcoming. Between my wife and I it works. The words and actions are meaningful but the tone of percentages can be playful banter. This isn’t going to work the same in teams. The goal of assigning percentages is to create space for self-awareness meaning it can be done without saying a word.

Don’t start splitting blame if not everyone is aware of the intent. It will backfire and people will get defensive and argumentative. Having this type of candid conversation requires each person to be willing to accept and own their part and be able to view it as solutions-based conversation, not a scapegoat from their own involvement.

From Blame to Ownership

As revealing as it is to split the blame positively, the word still has its negative connotation and can feel like an attack even if it only for a small percentage. So instead of looking around the room and placing blame, let’s place ownership. Mark owned doing what he was supposed to. Mark owned telling his team earlier. How much ownership can I take for the missed bill?

Here’s the second part of better blame (ownership). The admission of it. How do we get to a place where no one has to pry ownership out of others but for each person to be forthcoming with it? As the leader of a team, it is our responsibility to create an environment where people feel safe enough to present such admissions. To show you’re serious in that effort, take the first step. How would our story of Mark been different if it were his own admission of ownership served with a side of opportunity?

“I should have done this. I’ll remember to do so going forward but I might need reminders.”
“I should have told everyone sooner. How best does everyone want this to be communicated?”

After hearing admissions like this, the team is going to feel more confident in the future knowing that there are no consequences to admitting ownership and in fact it is expected. From our story, Mark still holds majority ownership but who else at the table owned a piece? If Mark owned keeping everyone involved but missed the mark, did anyone ask? Or did everyone just assume things were happening predicated on no news is good news. Would Mark had gladly given up the information if one person posed the question?

Before you rebuttal with “It’s not my job to do his,” I understand how you feel, I’m guilty of it too, and you’re right in the broad sense. However, is it not your job to ask or speak up for the things you want and need that directly impact you? There is shared space between someone else’s responsibility and your responsibility. That space is where blame turns to ownership.

Show Up

Simon Sinek has said before “A leader should not take credit when things go right if they are not willing to accept responsibility when things go wrong.” When it comes to ownership, the same principle applies. A leader should not take ownership when things go right if they are not willing to accept ownership when things go wrong. This means being the first to openly admit it. This means guiding the team through “What could we have done better?” to better split up ownership. This means going forth and owning it.

The Path of Change

Change is unyielding and unending. Every day is unique. If you can’t think of a reason that’s true, here’s a global perspective. As the earth travels around the sun, you are 1.6 million miles from where you were yesterday. A more tangible parallel is the weather. While that can be forecasted, it cannot be determined. We can anticipate outcomes but cannot foresee them. Minute changes are easily overcome and even welcomed as monotony can be deflating. Larger changes however, feel insurmountable. We look across the deep chasm of where we are, our comfort, to where we’re headed, the unknown and different, and wonder how anyone could cross.

The Change Curve

A few years ago I was introduced to a popular concept to me called the Change Curve. This curve helps to model the journey we take when change is afoot within an organization or beyond those four walls. We’ll use a broad example of just discovering that your current role will be transitioning to a different capacity in which responsibilities will shift and new operating procedures will be put in place.

We begin on the left where what we know is all we know. Merrily content with our undisturbed work. Suddenly, a forceful gust of wind pushes us over the ledge and we begin tumbling towards an arduous rocky bottom. The announcement of impending change happens fast and is unpredictable. This part of the curve is where we know the least amount of information and where we can feel like the change is happening to us. We’ve been informed that we’re now on a path that the day prior didn’t know existed. We have so many questions and here so many of them go unanswered.

Different = Emotionally Taxing

An organization’s decision to make major changes is not without forethought. Great organizations spend time weighing different paths against remaining on the current one. When the decision is finally made, only the path is decided and some obvious risks along the way. They are unaware of every twist, every fallen tree that will have to be hurdles before the final destination. Yet when it is announced, it is our natural tendency to ask these very questions in hopes of quelling our anxiety and doubts.

Anxiety is born from too little information and no power to control. When a change is external, not brought onto yourself, like an organization’s decision to shift responsibilities you certainly feel powerless. We may not always have the chance to influence how a change is decided or put into action. Great organizations consult those that would be affected but usually select a few to speak for many. If we cannot gain power over the situation we therefore search for more information.

Managers say it, leaders follow through on it.

While leaders may not have the exact route mapped out, calling out these emotions is a comforting antidote. Bringing teams together to share initial thoughts and feelings dissipates feelings of loneliness and uncertainty and those are not only recognized but accepted. There should be commitment from leaders that as information comes down, what can be shared will be and that it is all open for discussion. Managers say it, leaders follow through on that commitment.

The Valley of Despair

Too often managers hear uncomfortable feedback surrounding change and say “Hey, don’t be upset with me, I’m not the one that decided this!” Then take a passive role in letting the change happen to the team and not with the team. If you feel like a change is happening to you and not with you, this further deepens the powerlessness you feel and as the actual change begins, we get to bottoming out in the curve in what’s aptly named the Valley of Despair.

The Valley of Despair is vast and the darkest section as we find ourselves against an upward rock face, casting looming shadows over where we stand. Here we’re being directly impacted by the decisions made. Responsibilities you’ve had are being trained out and new, confusing expectations are laid out in their place. It is at this point where going back is not an option and moving forward seems impossible. Where what was once was cannot be and what is to be is not what was. At this lowest point we are uncomfortable, tentative, and vulnerable. We feel that even budging an inch will cause catastrophe. Without an easy way out, we decide to stay, becoming grounded and most resistant. The change is no longer occurring to us, it is working against us.

Change for the Better

The toughest task of organizations going through change is being able to pull people out from the Valley of Despair and move towards Acceptance where change happens with us. We need to be cognizant that people approach this section at varying speeds. Some people, using momentum from the initial fall seem to fly over the Valley of Despair and others fall head first into it. It is crucial to understand that both responses are human and neither should be characterized or misjudged.

We can however leverage those who are already on the Acceptance trek to help those still in the valley. They cannot get out alone and the lifeline required is connection. Everyone finds acceptance in their own way and on their own time but what helps tremendously is hearing from others already there. It is these people that have begun to realize this is the section where you are powerful. Yes, new expectations are confusing so let’s define them. Yes, those familiar responsibilities are gone so let’s learn new ones. Armed with more information and now the power to affect, anxiety is left in the valley with the shadow of our former selves.

Change For Us

At the top, beyond Acceptance is Meaning. In a state of acceptance, we can still be hesitant to change. There’s a space in acceptance where one may not accept because they see the positives but because they have no energy left to oppose. When we discover the meaning, our disposition shifts from change being with us, to for us. It makes all the endeavors thus far seem worth it. “I can do more with this different position.”This will help me further my career.” In acceptance, the change is an object to be conquered. In meaning, the change is a mindset.

Finally, we reach the other side. We look back across the landscape and can appreciate the journey we took. With change complete we stand in a higher place, with knowledge and growth gained. More knowledge of our personal speed through the Valley of Despair. Deeper understanding of what we need to move from acceptance to meaning. A certain comradery with the others that supported you along the way. Most importantly, confidence that the next change will be met with less resistance and that ultimately change does not happen to us or against us, but with us and for us.

(What learnings have you uncovered during your times of change? Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook at facebook.com/WeCanShowUp!)