Do the Work

“If we do not transform our pain we will most certainly transmit it.”

Richard Rohr


There’s a line from the poem “Out on the Ocean” by David Whyte that conveys Rohr’s meaning with visceral urgency:

“Always this energy smoulders inside, when it remains unlit the body fills with dense smoke.”

That unlit energy is the potential and possibility within each of us to transform ourselves from who we are to who we want to be.

If it is not activated it turns into acrid smoke that at first only chokes us, but in time finds its way to others in the form of resentment, jealousy, harshness, impatience and intolerance.

It can be grueling to bear our own pain, the wounded, unrealized or unfinished parts of ourselves. So we either keep allowing it to spill over onto loved ones and colleagues or we decide to do the work to transform it from an anchor to a sail.


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. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

A Suitable Place

The monarch caterpillar thrives on milkweed. We have two small plants in our front yard. The monarch eats it, grows nice and fat and lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves before wandering as far as forty feet away to find a suitable place to become a chrysalis. “Suitable” means any place that is firm enough for it to both adhere to and hang from, a place that will allow for a strong attachment, holding it up as it becomes something new.

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For the monarch caterpillar there is no perfect spot, there is only the spot that they find. On this day I was lucky enough to bear witness to the connection that was made just a few feet from our front door.

The monarch leaves the comfortable nourishment of the milkweed to find a place, as yet unknown to them, to go through the changes necessary to its survival. It sets off in search of the connection that will support its transformation.

Fed by our preparation, we set off in search of the connections that will help us to transform.

Prepare. Connect. Transform. These are the changes necessary for our survival.

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.