I Got Knocked Down Again

I watched Brene Brown’s Netflix special, The Call to Courage, for a second time today and her call to get into the arena, to be willing to get knocked down – to embrace the certainty of getting knocked down – reminded me of a post I wrote last October. Here it is again, truer than ever.



“You can’t go back and change the beginning,
but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
— C S Lewis


You know the feeling of being lost. You know what it’s like to start out with a sense of direction, a heading that makes sense to you. And then, after a wrong turn or missed signpost, that sense of direction evaporates into confusion as you can’t get your bearings. And you stumble around a little bit hoping it will come back to you. “This all looks familiar,” you might say, “but I just don’t know how to get going in the right direction.”

I got lost in the forest that way, not once but three days in a row. Each morning I set out with clarity and purpose and within 15 minutes I was not where I intended to be. I made wrong turns. I missed the signposts. It was dark and I was stubborn, a troubling combination.

For three consecutive days I failed to get the beginning right. For three consecutive days I was able to change the ending and get myself back where I needed to be.

I didn’t want it to play out that way but it was how I needed it to play out to help me understand my developmental pathway. That trail in the woods was always leading me back, not to what I wanted but to what I needed. And what I needed was the reminder that I am least in control when I am the most controlling; that I am least capable when I am blindly confident; that I am least connected when I focus on competence, arrival and completion.

Me against a dark and unknown forest trail wasn’t close to a fair fight. And each time it knocked me down I got back up to test it again. And I got knocked down again. Until, until, until I was ready to accept what it had to teach me; that the construct of “me against a dark and unknown forest trail” was only the latest manifestation of my familiar developmental path.

Me against. Me against. Me against. An endless, un-winnable fight.

Me with the unknown trail. Me with the scary conversations. Me with the deepening relationship. Me with the new opportunity to stretch, learn and grow. Me with the unknown future.

Connection is the pathway I continue to walk.


mountains nature arrow guide

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Do Your Work

“You only have two options—you do vulnerability knowingly, or vulnerability does you. People are taking their pain, and they’re working it out on other people. And when you don’t acknowledge your vulnerability, you work your shit out on other people.”

{Brene Brown}


At our best, we are dandelions, our seeds spreading out from us wherever we go. Every interaction is a puff of wind, taking more of the best we have to offer towards and onto the people in our lives. Great relationships are the accumulation of those seeds and the positive ways that they take root in one another’s lives.

white dandelion under blue sky and white cloud

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At our worst, we are manure spreaders, every interaction a chance to cover others in the worst smelling, least desirable parts of ourselves. Toxic relationships are made up of the accumulation of the manure we spread around and the negative ways it impacts other’s lives.

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It’s a wonderful irony that manure is widely used to make things grow. To do so, it must be transformed; it must be put in the ground and combined with other elements before it can become a medium for growth.

So it goes with us. We can transform our own pain – the pain that becomes our manure –  by acknowledging it, by admitting to how we use and misuse it and by offering reconciliation to ourselves and to others. When that happens, our worst inclinations become source material for the realization of our better selves.


 

 

Forgiveness

You can’t do it. It’s impossible. Enough already. Please. Just. Stop.

You cannot be perfect.

You cannot be a perfect mother or father, son or daughter, girlfriend or boyfriend, boss or employee, colleague or collaborator, friend or teacher or innovator or anything…you just can’t.

So, please stop expecting that of yourself. And stop expecting it from others.

Your life, your work will be so much richer, so much more fulfilling, so much more productive, so, so much happier if you focus instead on forgiveness.

{Hat tip to Alain de Botton and Krista Tippett for this conversation}


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.