If you can’t stand the heat…

I grew up with phrases like ‘if you can’t stand the heat get out the kitchen’, thanks to tough guys like Harry Truman who coined the phrase.

A macho bullshit line to basically say toughen up or you’re a loser if you can’t take the ‘heat’.

But being ‘tough’ is not the answer in some ‘put up with everything’ type environment allowing people to treat others badly. There is nothing clever, smart or tough about treating people like shit. It is just shit.

We will not ever be able to build an empathetic and people focused culture unless we move away from this being ‘tough’ mentality. It is about as appropriate to the world, as say, a steam powered loom would be now.

Getting the best from people comes from understanding not from ‘toughening’ them up and trampling all over their emotions and needs.

We do not need to subject people to ‘heat’. We need to create a safe, non-judgemental environment that inspires, supports and cares about them, allowing them to be vulnerable and open.

I am resilient, I am tough, I am a freelancer and the tiger of my home office…..grrr

Resilience has become the latest buzz word, it has muscled its way past authenticity, steamrollered over re-imagining, bulldozed pivoting, platforms, onboarding and failure. It has cemented itself to the floor like a huge statue to toughness and unflinching perseverance. Imagine a defiant captain on the bow of the boat in a huge storm shouting and defiant as waves wash over the captain and the boat, one after the other.

In fact, I am part of a small team putting together an art workshop including resilience, I just went to the 9th OuiShare Summit in Lisbon where we had a whole session on the very subject of resilience in the context of freelancers.

Everywhere you turn there is resilience.

The dictionary definition says ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.’

What ‘difficulties’? and what is meant by ‘toughness’?

Many talk about the ability to celebrate failure, often in some fake macho way, like ‘yippee, ye-haaa, whoop-de-dooooo, I fucked up again, great!! I am not a huge fan of this fake toughness. I wrote about this recently on my personal blog, see more in the further reading after this post.

Real toughness is the opposite to ‘tough’ it is the bravery to be open, vulnerable and to be comfortable about talking about our real emotions, setting boundaries and being able to be compassionate, kind, generous, and empathetic with ourselves and others.

It takes the ability to reflect, to learn, to dig deep into our emotions, then move forward, let go and re-write the story in a positive way for now and the future. It is not this phoney burying of things and just having a stiff upper lip, soldiering on and toughing it out.

That is only kidding ourselves and losing the opportunity to learn and progress to better things.

Failing has emotion attached whoever you are.

So being able to deal with ‘difficulties’ is not about ‘toughness’ it is about being able to be vulnerable, to embrace our emotions, to seek help, to be open, to be willing to learn, to be able to let got and to be kind to ourselves, to not seek to blame, but to seek only to improve now.
I am not sure that I even like the word resilience as it’s commonly thought and defined. I think we could choose to use a better word, empathy.

So, as a freelancer, do not sit in your home office and go all BBC ‘Apprentice’ style and look in the mirror and say to yourself ‘I am the tiger of my home office..grrr’. Instead, look in the mirror, look at your difficulties, rumble with them as Brene Brown would say, dig into the emotions, take the learning, re-write the truths, set new boundaries and move on, by letting go.

Resilience comes from the ability to stay true to your values, to ignore the critic and to turn off the shallowness of the digitalised, social media, superficial connectedness vortex that we’ve become sucked into and to choose to block yourself out to do deep, focused and meaningful work. To buck the trend, to not fit in, be different.

You do not need to be tough to overcome challenges and stay strong, you need to have the bravery to truly face the challenges, analyse them, run with them and make now the moment to do better.

It is not being impervious to things, it is being open and curious that brings strength as a person. By the way, this is not an overnight process, our emotions matter and are not to be trivialised in some buzz word fest of shallowness and bravado surrounding failures, to be truly resilient takes time.

Liberate yourself from the need to be ‘tough’, resilience comes from being brave enough to be vulnerable.

(Originally published by myself on http://www.atworkhubs.co.uk)

A selection of further reading

Yippee, I`ve failed, let`s have a party
Meetup groups celebrating failure are as common now as groups celebrating success. We have developed this fake bravado surrounding failure and the glib, celebrity style over trivialisation…
Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal…
The Art of Innovation
A series of interactive and practical organisational and personal development workshops. Co-facilitated by Stephanie Barnes, Phil Dodson and Doug Shaw. Sponsored by Herman Miller, The…
OuiShare Fest 2017 | Villes de tous pays, unissez-vous!
OuiShare Fest is an international event that gathers thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and movement builders to think critically about digital transformations and drive systemic change.
How deep is your work?
So this is a rare longer blog today and talking about some of my day to day work that I’m involved in apart from my blogging and art!! The reason for sharing is to highlight the challenges…
Escaping the hell pit of fear - how to become a braver...
Millions of people choose the life of a freelancer, OK to be fair some are there not through choice, to fulfil their dreams and to build a life they have always wanted only to be paralysed…
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