When I worked with the insurance company, the president/CEO had a few methods for motivating that I’d say were at best, ineffective. At least ineffective for people like me. The one thing that stands out–and I see where he was trying to go with it but it just didn’t work for me–kind of messed me up.
On conference calls and during trainings he would remind all of us that everyone had stuff they’re going through or have gone through. Well, that’s true enough for anyone to get behind. But he would go on to diminish the pain that we’ve all been exposed to by the natural currents of life. Essentially he was trying to say, we’ve all been pounded by life but we have to get up and move in a better direction. That’s what he was trying to say.
But the way he put it was, “Yeah you’ve been through some stuff, but big deal. No one cares. Everyone has. Your pain isn’t valid. Sell more policies and your dream will be within reach.” How we try to connect selling life insurance policies with the dream of singing, speaking, or being a writer is a whole other discussion in itself. The problem with trying to motivate people in your business to “move” and get things done by way of diminishing the pain and essentially shaming the pain they’ve been through, is that it is beyond malicious and the understatement of a lifetime by saying that it’s a poor leadership practice.
So, what that did to me personally was that it made me think that the pain in my story didn’t matter. But it does matter because NO ONE HAS A STORY VOID OF PAIN. There are many many elements and experiences that connect us to the whole story of being human. One of those things is pain, another is overcoming pain, another is experiencing a full life outside of the pain we once knew, another is the realization that more pain will come along with further realization that more than pain exists for us in this whole good experience called, life.
Here’s the truth about your pain: it can propel you forward, strengthen you where you stand, it can even breathe new life into the people walking through the same dingy, broken, messed up road you just passed through. Saying that pain brings life, is an obvious statement. Why obvious? Child birth. Doesn’t happen without incredible pain. We should expect that as we walk through life, in order to experience new life and new experiences that bring more life to us, we will pass through pain. Your pain is important. My pain is important. It’s valid. It’s not full of shame. Do not ignore it or try to move away from it as if it never happened. It made you. It created whatever beauty you may see or wish to see in your life. Pain is not the enemy. Never let anyone diminish the power of your story by diminishing the power of your pain.
Everyone has been through pain, but not everyone has been through the same pain. It took two completely different things to break my heart and your heart. However big or small, the result was the same. Brokenness. But what that brokenness births is new life. New opportunity. New appreciation. A completely new person. Do not ever be ashamed of what took you to your knees praying for God to take it away.
To that CEO, I hope you change your ways man. You have a lot of people listening.