Interpersonal EDGE: Desperation is Mother of Job Breakthroughs
Sunday, September 9, 2012

By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
 Q. Everything I have tried in the last few years professionally seems to have crashed and burned. I am tired, discouraged and out of great ideas. What do you tell your clients who have tried everything and failed?
  A. I tell my clients who have tried everything and failed that they now know what doesn't work and can try something next that would never have occurred to them before they were motivated by desperation.
  In three decades of helping my clients change, I've noticed that negative emotions consistently have an undeserved negative reputation. The truth is that big, powerful changes are nearly always motivated by an undercurrent of great suffering. Ironically, most of us won't try the really effective strategies until we are really in pain.
  When we are in deep pain, our usual concern for avoiding embarrassment, failure and the judgment of others is minimized by our desire to change our circumstances. Desperation is the mother of workplace breakthroughs because we become bolder and more creative.
  Most of us would enjoy our lives more if we needed less intense misery before we were willing to change. I have even told potential clients who came to me seeking help that they should call me back when they were in more pain. I could tell when they walked through my door that they were not miserable enough yet to find the courage to take the risks they'd have to take.
  When your house is engulfed in fire, you can see the futility of hoping to live in that same house ever again. You also recognize that you really can't dilly-dally in a burning house without risking a worse fate than facing the unknown. We understand we either burn down with the old or move on in the new. 
  Since you are now certain about what doesn't work, ask yourself the following questions:
  If I had no fear of what anyone thought, what would I try?
  If I did something I've never tried before, what would it be?
  If I cared more about my long-term well-being than about embarrassment, what would I attempt?
  In answering these questions, you'll discover you have to make the same voyage Christopher Columbus made all those years ago. You have to risk falling off your flat world and face your dragons. You'll find you then can sail into a brand new world of workplace opportunities.
   The last word(s)
  Q. I have an opportunity at work, but I'm not certain I can succeed at the project. Should I take it?
  A. Yes, you're better off making mistakes and learning than doing your old job perfectly and never being promoted.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker.  She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact  her at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed in the September 9, 2012 - September 22, 2012 Edition

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