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June 23, 2021

Summer Break: How to Process a Hard Season

I once drove around the entire country of Iceland. My friends and I rented a small RV, but it was a manual transmission and I was the only one who (sorta) knew how to drive it. It was rough at first, but I caught the hang of it.

One of the fellas, Zak, was the navigator. The other two friends, James and Will, took care of setting up camp at each stop. We were four guys on a mission to wander and wonder.

Along the way, Google directed us down some interesting routes. One particular road began a little bumpy, but quickly turned absolutely treacherous. Single lane, hairpin turns, steep hills.

I was driving in lower gears, foot on the gas, and just praying we didn’t stall or get stuck on one of the inclines. With some of my best friends under my care, in a foreign country, feeling completely lost, and literally on the edge of a cliff, it was one of the scariest drives of my life. Judging by the looks on my friends’ faces, and the silence in the RV, I think it was theirs too.

When we made it back to some semblance of a normal road, we pulled over and looked back at the final bit of path we had traversed. It was a kiss-the-ground moment. We celebrated that we'd made it and then discussed how to avoid those roads again.

As we started driving again, we had a renewed appreciation for going slow, charting our path, and enjoying the adventure.

Over the past year, you have faced some treacherous paths.
COVID, elevated racial injustice, social unrest, loss of loved ones, and just a whole lot of uncertainty. You may have experienced feeling overwhelmed, sad, scared, and overworked.

Now, how do you continue leading your work, your teams, and your life after traveling such winding roads?

As you settle into summer months, it might be time to pause and look back.

For you, that may happen over a day, a weekend, or a longer stint of time. During that pause, take time to clear your thoughts. Let go of the steering wheel and let your heart rate and breath return to normal.

Once you create that space, observe
What did you just go through? What happened emotionally, physically, and mentally? And what did you learn from that experience? Write those things down while they’re still fresh. And share them with a friend to help those lessons really stick with you.

Then, give yourself grace.
There is a chance you would have done a few things differently. Acknowledge those feelings, but then let them go. You’ve done the best you could up to this moment. We all have.

Finally, decide what should change.
As you look ahead, what do you want to do differently? There may be big changes, but there might also be small habits and routines that you need to revisit to live the life and do the work you want to do.

While this may very well have been one of the most difficult seasons you've faced, it won't be the last. Instead of trying to avoid them entirely, use these moments to plan for when you find yourself on the next difficult drive.

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