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Being Uncomfortable: The Choice to Make When the World is Hurting

Uncomfort

"We’ll make things better by seeing, by speaking, by doing the work. Even if it’s uncomfortable, especially when it is." ~ Seth Godin

This quote is profound, written in response to what we’re experiencing these days: Amy Cooper, George Floyd, protests, riots, and looting.

And it’s true.

True, but not easy.

Though “easy” isn’t the goal, it is, most often, our inclination. We search for easy answers and the easy way out. When things are complicated, difficult, and rife with misunderstanding, we desperately long for a quick-and-easy fix.
There is no “easy” to be found, nor is longing for such an appropriate use of our energy, our focus, or our time. Not now. Not ever.

Seeing is what we must do.

Speaking is required.

Doing the work is non-negotiable.

Even if it’s uncomfortable, especially when it is.

At Fierce, we are quick to acknowledge that we do not sit in a position of authority on any of our world’s current pain points. We do not have answers. We definitely do not have a quick-and-easy fix. What we do have is questions, grief, confusion, and a deep desire for change, for rekindled hope, for healing.

Toward those ends, we are having conversations: with each other about what we think, what we feel, what we sense, what we know – and mostly what we don’t know. Not easy. Not perfectly or even consistently. Often uncomfortable.

We are clear: conversation is the only thing that offers the possibility of much-needed change. Not conversation to prove ourselves right — conversation that provokes learning, that invites curiosity, that is for the sake of understanding above all else.

One of the primary ideas we live by is that the conversation is the relationship. It’s simple math, really. What we put into our conversations equals the kind of relationship we experience.

If I put honesty, authenticity, and courage into my conversations, I will have relationships defined by the same. If I withhold what I’m really thinking and feeling, chances are high the people around me are doing the same. The conversation stops. The relationship does, as well.

And isn’t that what we’re seeing and experiencing around us today? An accumulation of failed or missing conversations. A breaking down of relationships of social constructs and contracts, of rules, of expectations, even of hope.

What would have been different if Amy Cooper had a conversation instead of spouting accusations and threats?
What would have been different if Officer Derek Chauvin had a conversation with George Floyd instead of using a murderous force?

What would be different if protestors, rioters, and looters were actually heard, listened to, and given voice in conversation, by those they are reacting to?

And what would be different in our workplaces, our homes, our relationships with co-workers, supervisors, leaders, direct-reports, kids, partners, siblings, parents, friends if we had the conversations needed instead of avoiding them? Even if it’s uncomfortable, especially when it is.

We have so much work to do – collectively and individually, as a planet and as humans.

Conversations are that work.

And conversations are work. They take practice and skill and intentionality. We can choose to apply such…or not. But let’s be honest: “not” really isn’t an option. Ever. Certainly not now.

Seth Godin’s words bear repeating – again and again: We’ll make things better by seeing, by speaking, by doing the work. Even if it’s uncomfortable, especially when it is.

May it be so.

Often, at the end of blog posts, we offer specific steps or to-do’s that will enable action. To do so, in this context, feels counter-intuitive, even wrong. Our “answers” are not the ones that matter. Stated even more clearly, “answers” aren’t the answer, either – no matter where they come from. Questions (and conversations) might be a far better choice...certainly more gracious, vulnerable, and transparent.

What are the questions we need to ask ourselves? What are the conversations we’re avoiding because we don’t want to hear others’ answers? And what are the relationships that are suffering, if not flailing, because we’re not willing to risk, to try, to speak, to do the work…to have the conversations that want and need to be had?

Even if it’s uncomfortable, especially when it is.

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