Resilience after Four Years of Self Reflection
Today marks four years since a bad decision (no seatbelt while on a dry lake bed) and bad luck (wrong place, wrong time) changed my life’s trajectory in so many ways.
Some points I’ve learned:
- I am more aware of, and have a great appreciation of, true integrity and backbone. Lead like this and you’ll earn heavy dedication from me.
- I am no longer as tolerant of bad behavior. Regular micro-aggressions and incivilities won’t last long around me.
- Gratitude and awareness are the keys to staying true to these core values.
I can rationalize the accident, the death of one of my best friends, months of unemployment with lingering pain and disabilities. The lack of integrity in others I have interacted with is hard to make sense of. In the past I was willing to just tolerate and accept it. Backing down with that thin cop-out of “it is what it is.” I’ve since pivoted my mantra to “I won’t be bullied.” It doesn’t matter how good your technology is or how bright the future looks. If your leadership doesn’t have modern management skills and real ethics, I’ll find a place where they do. Especially one where my (new) boss and the leadership above them have the EQ (emotional intelligence) and backbone to take care of the team.
And don’t get me started on the situation where HR enables/supports this lack of integrity . . . that is scenario where moving on is the only option.
Leadership that tolerates bad behavior, especially when they promote those that behave like this, is another indication of an absence of integrity. Perhaps that leadership is so naive and immature that they don’t realize it is going on. Even if it isn’t actual bad will, it is an indicator of a team that is not going anywhere good. Long term success is highly unlikely when the team doesn’t feel safe to communicate. Read Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Disfunctions of a Team to understand more.
This is not a place to build your career and skills. It is a place to move on from sooner rather than later.
Being grateful for what I have, and also aware of the misfortunes I don’t have, has helped keep things in perspective. I saw that very early on in the hospital. In physical therapy I was learning to transfer in and out of the wheelchair, on my way to a near-full recovery. The young fellow next to me, who had recently become quadriplegic, was learning to operate his wheelchair with his mouth. That’s a heavy scene that I hope you never have to take in or help another to understand. Truth is you can find smaller lessons like this every day.
When you buy that bag of groceries and the cashier asks if you want to add a donation to a local food bank – do so if you can. When the stranger with a pair of jumper cables approaches you in the parking lot, help them jump their car if you feel safe doing so. Have empathy, not pity, and help others. You’ll be rewarded far more than what you give. “It’s more blessed to give than receive.”
In my social circle there was an older fellow that, when asked how he was doing, would respond “Well, I woke up on this side of the grass.” I used to think that was a bit much. For Jimmy “the clutch”, with melanoma, it was a month from diagnoses to him never being able to join our weekly dinner again.
Four and a half years ago I never would have given much weight to “life’s too short” being a reason for anything. I now know for many things how true that statement is. And I sleep more soundly because of how that knowledge has changed my priorities.