Building Resilience & Capacity in Our Darkest Hours
At this time a week ago I was a wreck.
I was in the midst of some of the most challenging and demanding conversations I have ever had leading our technology teams at BuildDirect.
The stakes at BD are always high - striving to be an Amazon scale company but starting at the ground level. Investors to report to and a board eager for positive updates, which like with all start ups can be few and far between at times.
I am responsible for leading the software development teams that facilitate the ‘buyer’ experience of our online Marketplace platform. In other words our teams job is to help homeowners find, fall in love with and buy the products they need for their project.
Last week our team wasn't pulling it's weight. And the entire executive team sitting around the boardroom was rightfully letting me know.
I sat there feeling as though I was physically shrinking in my seat. My cheeks felt like they were on fire. A big lump seemed to be lodged in my throat. Mentally I was fighting a swirling mix of emotions. My ego telling me I didn’t deserve this and it was actually someone else's fault. My guilt complex feeling ashamed and embarrassed having let the company down. Finally my grit and determination asking me to double down and find a way to solve the problem.
I felt myself leaning in…
"There has to be a way. I can't let myself fail, I can't fail this company or my team."
Shift mindset, shift outcome.
The tension and anxiety was still there, but the second I committed to this mindset everything about the conversation changed. I was able to take the harsh feedback as direction instead of criticism. Through my proactive involvement in the conversation I was able to reframe the energy and discussion in the room to help unite and align the group to move forward together.
Somewhere deep down in my being I realized this was an opportunity, if I was willing to re-frame the problem with that lens. This meant shedding the fight response my ego was asking me to use as a defence mechanism. It meant shedding the fear of flight that I was feeling in my gut.
I leaned in further. “I can do this. If anyone can figure this out, it’s you."
Admittedly a lie. But an empowering one that mobilized me into...
All night and weekend I slaved away, having framed the challenging situation as an opportunity I now unleashed the side of my ego that wasn't going to let me lose. I dug in, investigated, made calls, sought clarity, communicated updates and next steps.
By Sunday afternoon I was feeling better, I had hustled my butt off to help 'turn the ship around’. I knew there was still mountains of work to come but I felt I had conquered this storm front.
A week later I feel great.
Not because the business was now in a perfect state. Not because there won’t be more tough conversations in the days and weeks to come. But because despite my greatest fears, I proved to myself that I could do it. I had listened to all of the gremlins in my head and overcome their lures.
In what felt like my darkest career hour, I picked myself up and found another gear.
Talk about transferrable skills.
Building a Foundation
Ahh yes, that’s why I felt so good. This was the feeling of a "level up". Having made it through the storm I was out on the other side with a new depth of resilience. I had flexed new muscles I didn't know I had.
I sit here knowing something like this will come up again. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Maybe in my career, or at home, or during this upcoming track season. And what I know now is that I will be able to handle it.
In my mind’s eye I will allow myself a small grin as I feel the discomfort and tension rise. "I’ve been here before. I have a map for this".
I'll whisper to the Gremlins, "Ahh, I've missed you, old friends. You guys never feel good, but I know what to do with you. You are my single greatest opportunity to learn, grow, and continually build my resilience."
The real question
What if we always framed challenge and adversity as an opportunity?
What if instead of throwing up a wall of defense behind our pride and ego we vulnerably embraced what was in our path?
Because the truth is, there is always a way. Despite us feeling lost in our darkest hour - there is always a path up. And that path will lead you to your greatest growth and deepest joy as a human being.
My encouragement to you today is to hang in there.
You don't need to have all the answers. You likely never will.
You only need to believe in yourself. And lean in.
PS- if you need a little help along the way - drop me a line. I'm here for you :)