Grow your business through being negative!

responsabilityAt first glance this story might seem like it has nothing to do with building a thriving business.

However, as you read this, I invite you to consider where you haven’t been willing to “get off it” with someone or something in your business.

“Getting off it” is a willingness to take responsibility for your part in the drama and the story you’ve been telling yourself about those situations in your business where you feel stuck.

I’ve noticed for myself that what keeps things stuck in my business (and in my life) is me having taken a position that I’m stubbornly insisting I am right about… I’ve identified myself with a particular opinion that I now have to defend and justify.

Recognizing that I’m stuck (frustrated, irritable, defensive, ineffective, confused, etc.), affords me the opportunity to begin to do some self-examination (only if I’m willing); to start to be honest with myself about where I’m being self-righteous (again, only if I’m willing), so that I can create the space for an entirely new outcome.

As you read, consider where you haven’t been willing to “get off it” with people, places or things in your business…

I had been butting heads with my ex-wife for years.   I had two boys, six and eight years old and I could see our fighting was taking its toll on them.

Up until that point, my life had been dominated by the story that I was telling myself about their mother with versions of how I was right and she was wrong. Only thing was, to me it wasn’t just a story, it was the “truth”.

My internal dialogue went something like, “I made a big mistake getting married to her”, “I married too young”, “She was too demanding and controlling”, “She doesn’t support me”, “She is causing all this mess because she is basically an awful person” and “She has screwed everything up”.

couple-fighting-beluckyinloveI was tired of my being hurt and angry all the time. And to be honest, I was tired of feeling defensive and self-righteous.

I realized that if I continued to blame her for my situation, I probably wouldn’t ever be free of my anger and resentment. I was also aware at some level that I wasn’t being completely honest with myself.

I was dramatizing stories out of my anger and frustration. Not only that but I kept creating new versions of “it’s her fault.” It was a vicious never-ending circle.

Getting honest

In a moment of honest, self-reflection I wondered, “What if she actually wasn’t the source of my anger?”

I mean, here I am feeling this way and she’s not even around – and hasn’t been for quite some time! I began to consider that perhaps I might have had a role in this fiasco. I began to examine how I was responsible, and my role in creating a failed relationship.

I began exploring specific memories and situations about her and how I had interpreted them in a particular way. Slowly I began to deconstruct the story I had created about her.

Before long I had the realization, “What’s really been driving me, beneath my assumptions about her, was a fear of being dominated with an automatic reaction then to dominate her first; to be right and make her wrong!”

Without realizing it, I had been conducting my relationship inside of a “win/lose, right/wrong” frame of reference. While I got to be right, it had cost my marriage to a great woman, broken up my family and traumatized my kids.

BeliefWith this insight I could see that my integrity was really missing… I had a big mess to clean up.

I had it in my mind that the possibility of having a great relationship co-parenting our children existed.

I had several friends who had succeeded in creating peaceful relationships after divorce – so I knew at some level it was possible for us as well.

I decided to do something about it

Having seen that, the question of integrity came up for me. “What are you going to do about it?” I asked myself. I made a decision to clear things up with her.

I went to see her in the house where we had once lived together. I knocked on the door. She flung open the door. “What do you want?” She sneered. Anger flashed from her eyes.

walkInstead of jumping into fight mode, like I had done so many times in the past, I had a brief moment of seeing myself through her eyes.

I realized that if I were in her shoes I would have the same reaction. For the first time, I got my ego out of the way. I didn’t try to defend myself but actually “got” her – experienced the validity of her experience as if it were mine.

I listened to her, which I hadn’t done maybe EVER. I had the experience of relating to her as a person, a human being, like me. Not just as my angry ex-wife.

I told her, “I know I made it really hard for you to be married to me, that I’ve been a complete hard-headed, arrogant jerk and I want to apologize to you.

I made up this awful story about you and branded you as “a bad wife” so that I could be right and make you wrong. I was wrong. I’m here to make amends. I’m taking responsibility for the mess I created and I’m here to put integrity into our relationship.

I want to clear things up and create a relationship that supports you and our children. I’m here to find out what’s needed to support you in getting your life on track the way you want it.”

She took a long hard look at me as if to assess the sincerity of my statement. Tears began to well up as she said, “I want to sell this house. I want to get a job and to begin a career. And I want you to take the kids.” She replied. Then she cried as I held her for the longest time.

Creating an amazing life

I signed the house over to her so she could sell it quickly. She bought a new, smaller house and my kids moved in with me. Next, I spoke with a family member who worked for a major manufacturing company and asked him to help her get a job.

Several weeks later she went to work there, where she eventually won “Employee of the Year.” Three years later she was awarded “Supervisor of the Year”.

I'm the BestAfter a few years passed, she married a great guy from her company. My children got over their anger and confusion and thrived, creating a close relationship with their mom and step-dad. When I eventually remarried, my new wife and I weren’t able to have children so we chose to adopt.

We asked my ex-wife and her husband to become godparents to our newly adopted children, which they gladly accepted.

As our children grew into adulthood, my ex-wife and I genuinely enjoyed each other’s company with our new spouses and our grandchildren.

In spite of what started out as a hostile, hateful and resentful divorce, we were able to create a phenomenal future and family together, a future that would have never been possible without my being willing to get off my anger and resentment.

Authors note about being willing:

Being willing is a creation. It’s the key to getting yourself unstuck from your addictive righteousness. It’s a gift one creates and gives oneself and the world… for free. When we’re in our righteous mode, being right, it’s hard to be willing. Then the question becomes, “Am I willing to be willing?” Once you are willing to be willing, you’re willing!

Apply this story to your business and life:

  1. Think of a person, issue or thing that you’ve been struggling with (in your business).
  1. What’s your internal dialogue or story (the conversation you have with yourself) you’ve been telling yourself in regards to this person, issue or thing? What are you being right about? Who or what are you making wrong? How do you justify your position?
  1. What’s the cost of not getting off your position – in terms of relationships, stress, expanding your business, making money, enjoying your work?
  1. What’s your part in it (what are willing to take responsible for…)?
  1. What’s a bigger, more powerful, life-giving possibility you could create for you and this person, issue or thing… something that would make a difference for you and everyone?

Are you willing to get off it? If so, what’s an action you could take that would demonstrate your new possibility? Are you willing to take this action? When?

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