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the Presence Point

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Trial by Fire = No Mistake

Last week my husband and I stumbled on a house we wanted to buy. I mean, we wanted this house. Not in a passing daydreamy sort of way. It seemed pretty near perfect for our little family.


We went to the bank a couple of days after seeing the house. It was disappointing. Then we started to work on some family assistance, and that was painful. Meanwhile, I was losing sleep what with moving into this house every night in my mind. The cost was my physical and emotional health and well being. But that didn’t stop me, night after night, lying awake well past my little one and long after my hubby had turned out the light.

Did I mention that we weren’t looking to buy a house at this particular moment? We had none of the information, knowledge or knowhow for buying a house. We had a rainbow and a gut feeling to go on - auspiciousness driving the boat instead of grounded, practiced reason.

We wound up putting an offer together and submitted it. At that moment, we felt the trial was over. But we were wrong. The sellers came back with a competitive counter offer they had received and we were not going to be able to beat their contingencies.

We lost the house.

We had to let go.

And at last, for the first time in the whole week, there was air to breathe again. There was relief. And we began again to feel the joy of our situation, sans house. It was a trial by fire. And we learned a great deal. We were able to appreciate the sadness, while also tasting the relief.

This is a scenario that I’ll bet is very familiar to many of you. As leaders, we are often faced with quick decisions. A project comes our way, whether inspired by sudden insight or long-range planning, and we devote ourselves to it. We stay up nights drawing the plans up - on paper or in our mind's eye - and then something comes along that makes us realize we have to stop, cancel, or completely shift gears.

This is a crucial moment - this moment of collapse. How we navigate that particular moment demonstrates our true heart and leadership quality. It is not the way we negotiate the project, it is how we let go and let things fall apart that shows whether we have the strength to shine or burn out.

At the root, there is no true mistake that we can make. My husband and I chalked up our experience with the house to a deep, quick, trial-by-fire learning opportunity. We know now what our resources are, what we are looking for, and what the process is. Something better or equally as good is sure to come our way.

In the moment of collapse, of things falling apart, we have the opportunity to free our grip on things and let go into space. We have the opportunity to listen to our body and do what it is telling us - whether that is taking a deep, long nap or jogging 5 miles around the pond.

As leaders, we constantly have the opportunity to learn and be educated by experience. This education through the bumps and potholes of life has a far deeper value because of it’s very visceral nature.

We wanted to give our daughter a house for her first birthday, but instead she gets our un-hindered love and once again burgeoning energy!