Finally! I know, I know, it’s been a while since Part 4 (You Will Be Overlooked) was released. Shame on me – I was doing a little bouncing back of my own. If you need to brush up on the preceding posts from the series, click the links below:
I think I needed a little extra time to reflect on this one. It’s so much easier to write about negative things that happen (or at least we perceive them as negative at the time), because hindsight is 20/20, right? After we’ve learned from something, gotten over it, or found new ways to look at it, it becomes almost therapeutic to talk about it. But #5 is a tricky one, because it’s something we’re always in the process of doing (and most of the time unbeknownst to us). Here’s my take on bouncing back (better than ever):
Okay, you know that really terrible feeling you get when you just seem to be in a funk that you can’t break out of? You’re questioning everything, you generally don’t feel good about what you’re doing or how certain parts of your life are going, your energy is sapped, and you’re feeling less than confident? Maybe you have no drive to get out of bed in the morning, or you dread spending your day carrying out the same old tasks with no real sense of certainty about your future?
Yes, it sucks – but I think this “rut” or “funk” that we all experience from time to time is actually the beginning of a metamorphosis. In last week’s post about marketing and sales and butterflies, I tried to use the life cycle of a butterfly as a metaphor for the progression of the marketing and sales cycle (I also used an iceberg but I’m not sure how well that one caught on). Cheesy as it may sound, sometimes metaphors are a great way to illustrate an idea, and I happen to think that butterfly metamorphosis can be a powerful illustration for many things, so don’t judge me while I recycle that idea.
For this to make sense, you would have to think of yourself like a butterfly that completes many life cycles (cats have nine lives, right? so maybe think of yourself like a butterfly-cat…stay with me…) – or transformations – in its single span of time on earth. Clearly we all grow from infant to child to adult, and that’s a transformation we all share. But within each of our life stages we undergo many other changes, some imperceptible and others major. And the eternal optimist in me believes that we can uncover something good from all of them – even the ones that are tragic.
If you’ve been following the series, you know that I started with fear of failure, walked you through handling people who offend you, guided you through the pain of being underestimated, and helped you cope with being overlooked. But this “bouncing back” theme is harder to write about, even though it appeared in each of the four previous posts (you’ll get over it, you’ll move on, it’s not you – it’s them) – because resilience is something, like grace, that we don’t know has happened to us until we’re way out on the other side of what caused it. Things happen, the dust settles, we get caught up in it, and our brains go into action mode until we clear a spot to reflect and re-balance or normalize. Only then do we realize, hey, I made it through that, and I didn’t think I would. I’m so much better off now. Everything really was “going to be ok.” Maybe I shouldn’t have freaked the heck out.
Regardless which phase of your career, or even life in general, you identify with – we all hit ruts and fall into funks. It’s just part of life. Whether everything’s fine and you’re just worn out and bored, or whether you’re preparing for a major transition – something is coming your way. And if you’re a weirdo like me, the minute you recognize that you’re “in a funk,” you start frantically trying to dig your way out of it (that approach, by the way, has never been productive for me). Don’t fight the funk, because once you emerge on the other side of it, something great is going to happen which will completely demystify the entire process. It might take months for you to see the change in yourself, but the events punctuating your stasis and rebirth will be apparent.
What I’m saying is, you obviously have a pretty good track record of making it through hard times. If you’re reading this, you’re alive, and you’ve survived things. Whatever has happened recently or might be about to happen next – you’ll get through that too. Whether it’s one of the items on the list and you fail miserably at something or get skipped over for a promotion, or it’s a series of unfortunate events that make you feel like a dark cloud is following you around – change is coming. And even if it seems bad now, good will come from it. I won’t go into all that “everything happens for a reason stuff,” because while part of me believes that, the other part of me believes that you control your destiny. But I do think all choices and occurrences set things in motion that we can then look back on and say “wow, I guess that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for _____, and what have I learned?”
Every crisis, rut, funk, annoyance, piece of bad news, offense, or whatever (insert negative event here) bears an opportunity for some part of yourself to be reborn. You might become more polished, better at managing your expectations, kinder, smarter – a door might open that wouldn’t have opened if not for this experience – etc. So don’t worry about all the little things that seem so big and important now, the ones that irk you and piss you off. The moment will soon be gone, and you can choose how to compose yourself the next time something similar arises. Resilience is like buoyancy, and it’s yours to possess. So don’t fight the funk – settle into the rut, roll around in it, and know that transformation is occurring. You’re being prepared for something better. And once you’re ready, that wave will carry you through to the next phase – where you’ll be a better you and more well equipped to handle the next thing life throws at you.