Tension to Pain

Tension
beyond a certain threshold
will cause damage,
small or big.

Damage
will cause pain,
little or much.

Pain
will yield behaviors
intended to soothe
or prevent further pain.

Some of these behaviors
can damage our relationship to others,
unintentionally.

And yet,
if we
and our relationships
can recover from the damage,
both can develop,
as our muscles do
when they incur damages
from the significant tension they experience
from exercise.

It’s not You. It’s me.

It’s not you.
It’s me.

The person I’m speaking to
in conversation,
that is.

It’s true.
I sometimes speak
with my past self
instead of you,
the person
in front of me.

I know
this can confuse
sometimes even anger
or frustrate
you.

When that happens,
I want you to know
that it’s not you,
it’s me.

It’s just that,
the pain
of my past experience
is simply too much
to bear.

So although
I know
that as a leader
I must do better.

There are times
when it feels
as if I must proclaim
—No, shout—
in order to remind myself
to never experience
the same pain
ever again.

Being Strong

At our first session,
she would habitually use the word “strong”
to refer to herself.

“To be strong,”
she said,
“I should
Stop worrying and,
instead,
Focus on problem solving.
I should
Stop blaming my employees and,
instead,
Blame myself,
the CEO.”

On the surface,
these sounded wonderful,
virtuous, even.

But after a month
of realizing empathy with herself,
she discovered
that by “strong”
all she meant
was “numb to pain & discomfort.”

There’s a world of difference
between following advice
and realizing for one’s self
by leading through a journey of innovation.

A journey
through which we learn new
or unexpected choices.

Without the journey,
“stop worrying,”
can merely mean “repress stress & anxiety.”

“Focus on problem solving,”
can merely mean “focus on eliminating fear & concern.”

“Blame myself,”
can merely mean “lead with unconscious shame.”

To frame this phenomena
as someone’s “fault”
prevents a deeper exploration.

More valuable
would be to recognize what happens naturally
when we lack
a sense of choice
or proper support.

Time for Another Metaphor

One
of the most important concepts
in my first book
is metaphors.

Metaphors
connect two seemingly
unrelated
ideas.

In doing so,
it can help us discover
new
or unexpected insights
into something we were previously
unaware.

For example,
while I was on tour
with my book
I shared the psychological pain
and struggle
I experienced
in the artistic
creative
process..

To my surprise,
entrepreneurs
resonated more deeply with my experience
than others.

It turns out
entrepreneurs experience
similar psychological/interpersonal pain
and struggle
in the process
of launching
and running
their business.

This experience helped me
create a metaphor
between the experience of artists
and the experience of entrepreneurs,
which lead me to do
what I do
now.

But until I created
that metaphor
I used to often say
that I don’t understand entrepreneurs.

If I said I do understand,
it was just so I could feel entitled
to say something negative
about them.

So now
whenever I say
I don’t understand someone
or say I do understand them
just so I can say something negative about them,
I tell myself
that it’s time
for another
metaphor.

To be a Better Designer, Attend to Your Pain

We experience tension
when there’s a conflict
between what we expect or need
VS what we have
instead.

Design begins
when we take responsibility
for clarifying,
prioritizing,
and addressing
our tension.

Say we expect computers
to be more usable.
We begin to design
the moment we take responsibility
for clarifying,
prioritizing,
and addressing
this tension.

We don’t always design, though.

Sometimes
we push responsibility
away.

We blame.

This is normal.

Especially when tension
accompanies pain.

If we wish to design
may we attend to our pain
immediately.

Before it becomes
an untreated wound.

A wound that can be irritated
unexpectedly,
leaving us
with such a low threshold
for tension
that we end up spending
too much of our time blaming
instead of designing.