“Spirits turned bitter by the poison of envy
Always angry and dissatisfied
Even the lost ones, the frightened and mean ones
Even the ones with a devil inside
Thank your stars you’re not that way
Turn your back and walk away
Don’t even pause and ask them why
Turn around and say goodbye
All that you can do is wish them well…”
–Neil Peart, “Wish Them Well”
Here there be haters. It’s unavoidable. It’s inevitable. It’s sadly undeniable when it happens, because it will. You may love what you do, and love many with which you do it, and where you do it, but at some point there be haters, especially when you’re succeeding.
And even when you’re not.
There are those who, for whatever reason, don’t want you or your peers and colleagues to make any mojovational magic. Maybe they’re bitter about their own failures, down on their luck because they’re out of work or in between gigs. Maybe they were laid off, fired, or quit for some entrepreneurial endeavor that went to nowheresville. Maybe they feel screwed by someone else and want to pay it forward. Maybe their personal life has hit the proverbial crapper, the stink of it permeating every other pore in the world around them.
Most of us have been there, am I right? I know I have. Not proud at all of past reactionary backlashes and cynical rehashes.
But on any given day, we do need to be challenged – we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to self-assessment and judgement. Our bright ideas, our hopeful business models, all things world of work need to be poked and prodded and vetted for reliability, validity, viability, agility and resiliency. That’s why we have VC’s, critics, analysts, therapists, board members, consultants, friends and family.
And there’s a big difference between challengers and haters, the former being of the more resilient stock.
Wait, there’s that word again — resiliency. Before this week I’ve been so fixated on the “engagement” factor and many other business buzz words that not once had I considered the “r” word. Until I came across the work of Michael H. Ballard.
A man who had a head injury at age six that caused him to struggle in the classroom.
A man who was robbed by a motorcycle gang at 19.
A man who battled a serious chronic illness for 12 years.
A man had a seven-year battle with two bouts of cancer and an emergency midnight surgery to save his life.
A man who now talks of resiliency and how workplace cultures can create more productive and safer environments. The fact that resiliency can be learned; that it’s a process, a belief system and a skill set; that it’s a top-down, bottom-up and side-to-side cultural process for every organization.
Because without resiliency, the ability to bounce back from life’s everyday obstacles and overwhelming adversities would be a daunting task. I’m sure he’s not the only coach and mentor talking about it, but he is the first one I’ve come across of late.
We carry a lifetime of experiences with us like excess weight around our hearts we can never quite shed, a weight that restricts our breath at the most inopportune times.
My weight included an abusive alcoholic birth father and an abusive crazy first step-father, the epitome of the broken, angry and selfish male. Thankfully I had a loving mother and second step-father I ended up calling Dad (God rest both their souls), and I learned to overcome that internal gravity at home and at work and become a loving, resilient husband, father, friend, colleague, manager and life leader who leads with levity and an open heart. Most of the time.
But who cares, right? What a bunch of softy self-serving hooey, right? What if you didn’t have similar traumatic experiences? What if you’re just friggin’ trying to make a living and find some semblance of a career you can call home, not to mention someone to maybe share it with? Not everyone has such a struggle, but everyone can and should learn to be resilient because everyone does usually fail to succeed at some point.
It’s unavoidable. It’s inevitable. It’s sadly undeniable when it happens, because it will.
Here there be haters, and no matter how much you want to hate back, you should learn to:
- Detach. Practicing detachment from the things and people we can’t control at all is key, but that doesn’t mean without empathy. Having empathy is the very essence of self-awareness and being human, which doesn’t mean you feel sorry. You forgive, but you don’t feel sorry for – because you’ve been there on some level and know what comes around goes around.
- And walk away. Not everyone in your life and your “world of work” will be as resilient — i.e., the “haters.” Wish them well, work around and walk away. This doesn’t mean you’re giving up without a fight. Think of haters like bears sneaking into your campsite. They’re hungry and angry and frustrated and have only one thing on their minds – eat and satiate. Now. Everything else is inconsequential.
And that’s why you don’t feed the bears. Walk away and wish them well. That’s living a life of resiliency.
I’ve got your back.