leaderful musings …

"May my mind come alive today to the invisible geography that invites me to new frontiers …" ~ John O'Donohue

Archive for October, 2012

The World Didn’t Implode

I won’t bore you with the details, but I recently found myself in the extremely uncomfortable position of writing an email that I knew was going to provoke anger; maybe even fury.

Now you need to know I am a peace loving person.  I value harmony, respect and rightful relations.  In True Colors terms, I am a blue.  In professional terms, I spend a great deal of time and energy growing trust and cultivating mutually empowering relationships where collaboration is the highest value.

I was not prepared for the intense onslaught of anxiety unleashed by the mere act of hitting the send button.  I was dumbfounded and rendered incapable of doing much of anything for the better part of an hour.

In hindsight, I now recognize that I experienced my first ever full blown anxiety attack.  At the time, all I knew was that I felt feverish and shaky, and my head felt like it was being squeezed by a contraption with an outer layer of tiny needles.

We’ve received a formal response to our email which indicates that our strategy of non-compliance was successful.  In short, the victory was ours.  Mind you, the ‘war’ is far from over.

I have no illusions.  There will be consequences to our non-compliance, our bold decision to claim some autonomy and act according to what we believed was the right decision.  I just don’t yet know what those consequences will be.

What I do know is that the email was necessary.  We’d hit a wall and to comply in this case would have meant perpetuating a paralyzing  power imbalance.  Where there should have been collaboration and a shared approach to solving a problem, there was  acrimony and disempowerment.

I do not know where the two parties go from here. There may well be more conflict and more anger.

And yet, I think we’ve allowed something important to happen.  We’ve at least temporarily dismantled the power equation in this relationship.  Anger and conflict were inevitable.

The other more personal, but, perhaps, equally important thing that has happened is that I’ve survived the experience.  I don’t say that lightly.

I don’t relish doing it again but at least now I know that if and when I ever need to stand my ground because of something I believe deeply, I can do it.  And the world won’t implode!  I have the capacity to survive the horrible experience of knowingly putting anger and conflict into the world in order to address larger issues of justice, equality and mutual respect.