‘The places where you have the biggest challenges in life are the places you have the most to give.’ (Tracy McMillan, TED Talk)
I recently heard this quote in a TED Talk (by Tracy McMillan) which certainly adds a different perspective. And made me reflect on a really tough period I went through.
It was about a decade ago. Mental health was not trending in the media, and social media was a mere sandpit. I suffered a very challenging six-month period at work. In silence. I landed in a team where our work values were different. I felt like the apple in a bowl of oranges. And I became a scapegoat for every problem. That’s what it felt like anyway.
I sought inspiration on a website which no longer exists (nevermindthemanager). Just the name gave me energy and made me chuckle. I developed a mantra ‘flowers grow in the dark.’ (It was an extra-long cold winter and I wore my snow boots for 3 months!). And I desperately looked for an exit in all the wrong places. Looking back, this difficult phase laid the foundation for one of my top skills today. Resilience! It was also instrumental in forming my future coping metaphor – I went to work with Gore-Tex® on and let unwanted feedback simply slide off me. Like rain.
What did I learn which could help others going through a challenging period?
- Listen to your values. They are telling you something. Guiding you to take action.
- Develop a supportive mantra. You will get through this stronger, tougher, wiser.
- A puzzle has pieces for a reason. You cannot create /fix something alone. Neither can the manager. When a team fails, everyone is equally responsible.
- Sometimes nobody wins. Or everybody loses. It’s OK.
- Toxic work environments are caused by toxic people. Get out. Fast!
- Trust the truth will come out in the end. Always act out of integrity and in alignment with your own values. Then you can walk away with your head held up high.
- Forgive (yourself and others) and move on. Don’t hold a grudge. It’s not healthy.
What would you add to this list?
It’s taken me years to share this story without tears in my eyes. One piece of advice from a short stint with a psychologist helped me to move on. ‘Imagine you are moving house. Decide what you want or need to take with you. And leave the rest behind.’ It helped.
Never be afraid of who you are. You are always in the right place. The good, the bad, the ugly and the messy has shaped you into who you are today. And these are all part of the beautiful adventure of life.