Well, it’s definitely autumn in the UK. As the leaves turn orange signalling the passage of time, the last of the warm sunny days are a reminder of the wonderful summers yet to come and the beauty present in any moment.
A question that often comes up in career and life transitions is how to deal with the discomfort of not knowing what’s going to happen.
There’s a sense of not having any ground beneath our feet or supports to hold on to.
It’s easy to feel buffeted by the winds of change and recoil at levels of emotional chaos we never knew were possible…One day you’re on top of the world and the next you feel like it’s game over.
Our mammalian-reptilian brain doesn’t like this sort of discomfort. No, it likes comfort, predictability, certainty.
Most people will try to avoid the discomfort and look for relief or distracting pleasure in whatever alternative is available.
Of course, joy is essential to living.
But the truth is that uncertainty is necessary for growth, and with it come growth pains.
(See below for a past Wise Wednesdays video about career crises being totally normal.)
Creating a career and life that fulfills you is not about avoiding pain or seeking pleasure through distractions (unless, you enjoy constant restlessness, anxiety after the short-lived highs).
Fulfilling your potential requires facing the growth pains with courage and cultivating certainty from within. You might call it faith.
We don’t use the word very much at work due to its religious connotations. Substitutes include “confidence” or “believing in yourself”.
But faith is much more than self-esteem or positive psychology.
It’s a skill, like any other - a foundational skill from which all others can emerge. I’ve seen this in myself and my clients as they do the work required. They develop further skills:
Honouring what’s true for them, and acting in integrity with that.
Knowing what they value and what deeply motivates them.
Learning and growing from mistakes, setbacks, and disappointments.
Resolving disagreement and conflict and turning them into a greater sense of connection.
Your organisation won’t normally teach you that; partly for historical reasons and partly because they don’t think it’s in their interest. Hamsters on hamster wheels are much more useful to ruthless productivity.
The other reason is that they just don’t know.
These skills (resilience, emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence) are career and leadership skills that the mainstream is only starting to recognise and implement in trainings.
But why wait for the mainstream to catch on?
If you have the slightest intuition that things could be different and that you could feel inspired and fearless in your work to a degree that makes you an unstoppable force for good, isn’t it worth a try? Isn’t it worth developing a little faith?
Dr A started her coaching journey in confusion and anxiety over what to do with her career before reconnecting with her inner-certainty and trusting that she could let go of trying to control everything. She started seeing the bigger picture again and her enthusiasm was renewed over the impact she could make through medicine and beyond. Suddenly, opportunities multiplied and a portfolio of work that energises her materialised.
In any case, if you’re going to feel uncomfortable, why not make the discomfort worthwhile? The world will be a much better place if you have faith in your better future.
Have a great week,