I was at overnight summer camp in the early 70’s and we had just completed an all camp soccer game. My team had won the game and there I was sitting on my bunk crying my heart out.
During the game, I was the goal keeper for my team. I stopped multiple attempts on goal by numerous people. I leaped. I dove. I even raced out and snatched the ball away before someone could kick it. I was fearless.
And there I was, weeping on my bunk after the game. My counselor came in and sat next to me.
“What’s up? You won,” he asked.
“It was a good game,” I replied, “but when preventing a score in the second half, I dove and ran into my best friend. He hurt his ankle and may have to go to the doctor. I didn’t mean to hurt him but I did. I just feel awful about winning and hurting people in the process.”
There was a long pause before my summer camp counselor said, “It OK to feel the pain and to be overwhelmed. Sometimes in life this happens. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of feeling your way through the process. Sometimes, the heart knows more than the head.”
Routinely during executive coaching sessions, people will say to me, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to cry. I am just so overwhelmed by it all.”
And I often reply, “Tears are not a sign of weakness. They just show that you are human. Feeling overwhelmed is normal. It happens. Remember: leadership is hard work. It also can be lonely work. Having a safe place to process it can make a world of difference. Thank-you for sharing at this level with me.”
In a world where busy and fast are the new definitions of success, we rarely give ourselves permission to feel overwhelmed. We just keep pushing forward assuming we are on the right path.
However, there are times when we need to pause and process how we are feeling. When we do this in a safe space and with safe people, the insights gleaned are powerful and important. As I learned a long time ago, “Sometimes, the heart knows more than the head.”
This week I hope you can spend some time with safe people in safe spaces, and pause to process how you are feeling, not just what you are thinking. It will give you deep insights and new perspective about how to move forward.