Yes, that’s what I learnt about Resilience: After going through 4 marriages, 3 business’, 55 trips leading people to the high Himalayas of Nepal. If resilience means the ability to resist or ignore hurt, to stand up defensively in the face of challenge, to be relentless in your commitment as a leader, don’t do it, because it’s not going to cut it in the long run.
Hurt is good. Hurt is human. We learn from hurt. Hurt is healthy. Hurt means that you are listening. Hurt is a real life experience. So if you’re considering becoming more resilient so that you hurt less, feel less insecure, wobble less in the tough times, I’d be encouraging you to stop a moment and explore why that might just be the worst thing you’ll ever learn.
Lets go through them one by one and see if there’s any merit to my proposition of DON’T become resilient.
- The hurt I went through in my marriage break-ups taught me to love. Each time, before the hurt, I thought I knew how to love, but the hurt showed me that love is something that expands through circumstance. To heal the hurt, each time, I had to learn how to love, more than the last. Resilience, although far more comfortable and less disruptive to my career, may have caused me to bury those hurts, and that’s the source of a lot of illness especially anger at work.
- I’ve made three major leaps in my career that have been almost total reinvention of myself. Of course, nature never destroys the past, she simply builds the future on it, greater in consciousness and less in number. In simple language, I evolved through three complete career transitions. Resilience might just have made me, like many of my clients, stoic enough to ignore the hurt, to resist the possibility and stay where my heart was no longer in it. That’s the capacity of emotional and mental compartmentalising, and often the root of resilience teachings. When our heart goes out of something, we do too and sabotage starts to hurt those we care about. So, it’s another example of where resilience might have inhibited my vision and love for life.
- Finally, 55 trips guiding over 1,000 execs, athletes, actors, singers and carers up the lofty heights of a Himalayan trek reveals to me that resilience is what most people use in life to get them through the tough yards, because when the going gets tough on a mountain walk, you see what an individual’s normal habits are for overcoming challenge. They become self abusive, self critical, mean to themselves, rigid, hard, tenacious, committed, determined. Wrapping themselves in the coat they treat others with back at sea level, just raising their expectations and hammering out performance.
But you can’t beat the mountain
and you can’t beat hurt
To get a person up the mountain, and past this Resilience block that just places themselves in a high expectation, low kindness space, I have a serious piece of coaching to do. I’ve tried to explain the sequence below but truthfully, it’s not a process, because everyone is different.
- Let it hurt. Hurt is a friend, it is not the enemy. In traditional indigenous teachings it was often said “let it in, let it hurt, then let it go.” I think sometimes people try not to hurt and in doing so protract the hurt and turn it into suffering. The difference between hurt and suffering is that hurt has a time limit and you know it will stop eventually. Suffering is a hurt that you have no idea if it will ever stop. So, trusting yourself to hurt, means you know, to let it in, let it do its thing, then let it go.
- Shrink time. If we are on a mountain or dealing with a divorce or bad news at work, the greatest attack from that hurt is our sense of the future, our heart. If we lose heart we lose the future and our sense of continuity becomes disrupted. So, rather than be rigid about the future, I get my clients to shrink their timeframe down until they can smell the roses. As an example: in the hurt of closing my New York business after 911, my entire vision of the future of my life, my career, my finances evaporated overnight. So, I focussed on the day at hand. I simply deferred the need for a new plan by throwing myself into the moment, helping others in crisis, leading a trek in the Himalayas. And as the hurt went away, new vision of the future emerged, bigger and better than ever before. I didn’t try to be resilient, instead, I bent under the strain like a bamboo, and I achieved it through living in very short moments of time.
- Become Process Focussed. People who are in hurt, focus primarily on process. They are emotionally sensitive, take things personally, and would rather sacrifice the outcome, result and goal in order to achieve “pain relief” in the moment. This is very human during periods of hurt. So, in this time, rather than resilience, I advocate rituals, check lists and routines. From what to think before sleep all the way through the day and I make it non negotiable. A hurt person makes excuses. The hardest people to work with have mental depressions and they are filled with excuses as to why they couldn’t drink 2l of water today, or say 20 thank you’s or hold their posture firm. The process, discipline, and rituals of the day become the foundations that rebuild the future. I call this putting LIFE In the Bank and it truly does create a confidence that no matter what happens, you can use process to find your way out of it.
- A BIG WHY… I’ve worked with many people who want to give up on themselves. Some, super wealthy, super healthy, super well known people. People you’d think they, in the process of achieving their success, would have an almost bullet proof armour against hurt. But often this is not the case. Often people have achieved incredible success by purely hard work alone. Their emotional, mental, physical challenges have been dealt with using lovers, substance, yoga, sex and food. They’ve trod the path using everything they could find in a form of exceptional tenacity and conviction to succeed until one day, somehow, something gets under the floorboards of their confidence, and years of self-abusive achievement come tumbling down. The reason? Well, I don’t like to be generic in these sorts of answers but if there is one big generic answer it’s this:
“WHEN THE WHY IS BIG ENOUGH, THE HOW’S TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES”
The WHY that satisfied my heart last year, will not satisfy my heart this year. The WHY I would want to make $2mil this year, can’t be based on the same why I had last year. For me, with grown children, a bigger house or more relationship kisses, or a better TV set or a first class air ticket just don’t cause me to want life hard enough. I need a WHY that’s magnetic, magnificent, magical, a global WHY, something that makes me jump out of bed and run into the day, as excited to face the challenges of life with what others call “resilience” and I call LOVE. I love what I do, and the reason is because my “WHY” keeps expanding.
Want to Stay YOUNG – Be Inspired with a WHY that’s Big Enough
If you’re anything like me, ageing is nothing to do with years. It’s about your energy, vitality, reason for being, enthusiasm. I don’t have a bucket list because those are the count down to die. I have a slot machine and I feed it coins, pull the handle and create more dreams than I can live in five lifetimes. I have a WHY, a huge WHY and it’s this WHY that I substitute for hard headed, testosterone driven, adrenalin sucking, resilience.
Inspired…. beyond motivation. When the inner voice in you asks WHY? It’s really, really wise to have an ever changing, ever evolving, ever expanding answer.
A PURPOSE > You
An exercise tip – “DO AN I TOX”
I get my clients who are dealing with hurt to do an I TOX.
You can try it on yourself. Just ban the word “I” and “MY” for one whole day or even one whole hour.
Swing the focus away from me, me, me, me, I, I, I, I to you, your, yours. Ask questions instead of telling stories about Me, I, MY.
The beginning of LIVING WITH PURPOSE, is to swing the focus onto others. And once that becomes a habit, the idea of a WHY that’s big enough will reveal itself fast as a flash.