Think 'kintsugi'! The value of challenges, to make you better.Tweet
"Why is this happening to me?"
Have you ever caught yourself in this familiar lament? "Why me?" "Why now?" "Argh! If only..."
It's a sure sign of PLOM syndrome.
Not familiar with this syndrome? You probably are. Most of us are. It's this: "Poor Li'l Ole Me."
It's when we're feeling victim to circumstances. Loss of control. Succumbing to a sense of angst, foreboding or even despair. Wanting to feel sorry for ourselves.
It's often warranted.
It's just not helpful.
And, it can apply to us as individuals, teams, departments, companies, and communities. Or, any other kind of group we may be part of.
Better Times Ahead
Thankfully, it's not permanent. In fact, it's a matter of perspective -- and choice.
Grief. Health. Finances. Relationships. Work. Sometimes we're broken.
When it happens, we may look at others and say, "Wow. They've got it so much easier. They don't have to face what I've had to face."
OR, we may look at what others have gone through and think: "Whew. My struggles are meagre molehills compared to what they've overcome and achieved."
It's all a matter of perspective...
What's common though is the pain. The pain that happens when we break. When you feel like this time, you're done.
Pain. Sometimes brief. Other times lengthy. Maybe dull. Perhaps sharp, and acute.
Related post: "Why Do We Fall? ... learning to pick ourselves up" How to regain strength after adversity.
When you feel like you've just broken and wonder how (or if) you'll be able to pick up the pieces. And, even if you do, will you ever be the same?
Here's the bad news...
You won't. You will not ever be the same again.
But, here's the good news...
You won't. You will not ever be the same again.
You'll be better. Wiser. Stronger. More capable. More willing. More experienced. And more valuable than ever. If you choose.
If you choose to think 'kintsugi'! The value of challenges, to make you better.
More Beautiful for Having Been Broken
Kintsugi (金継ぎ?, きんつぎ, "golden joinery"), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い?, きんつくろい, "golden repair") is a Japanese art form dating back to the 1500s . It's the repair of broken pottery with gold, silver or platinum lacquer.
It's not just simple repair. It's the art, spirit and craftsmanship that go into it. The resultant 'alchemy' of perspective. Viewing the piece as more beautiful for having been broken.
Kintsugi honours the breakage as part of the history of the piece. It simultaneously appreciates the transformative nature and value of restoration. It recognizes the beauty in broken things.
Watch this short video to appreciate the heart and craftsmanship of transforming brokenness. It's 3 minutes. Just enough time to reflect, and let the idea sink in.
The Lessons for Life & Leadership
So what does "think 'kintsugi'! the value of challenges, to make you better" really mean for us? For the times when we get side-swiped by challenge? Uprooted? Broken?
It's about shifting focus from what's now lost, to what's been gained. From broken to transformed. From less... to more.
Not only seeing beauty in -- but creating value from -- trials and adversity.
As a metaphor for life, we practice this art when we realize the value and meaning of struggle in our lives. When we honour our experiences. When we honour challenge. When we realize: it's the splinters, nicks, lines & breaks in your life that add beauty. Bolder texture. More dimension. Richer value.
Applied day to day, it's a willingness to see the value and purpose in setbacks and adversity. So, here are 3 take-aways that can help you do that.
1st Take-Away: Stay Open -- 4 Potent Questions to Live & Lead By
Think 'kintsugi'! The value of challenges, to make you better starts with openness. It means approaching circumstances with curiosity and a spirit of learning.
Doing so demands preparedness and the will to examine what truly matters to you -- your 'why' of things. Plus, your readiness to struggle, fail and reach for it.
A clear why enables you to live and lead 'on purpose'. That includes getting broken from time to time.
It's a better kind of 'why' questioning. Replace the PLOM syndrome 'why me?' to a more purpose-driven why. It then allows you to bridge from 'why?' to 'why not?'
2nd Take-Away: Welcome Challenge as Part of Success
“If you don’t get what you want, it’s a sign either that you did not seriously want it, or that you tried to bargain over the price.” – Rudyard Kipling
This is NOT one of my favourite quotes. In fact, I find it frustrating and disconcerting. I include it though, because of its truth.
Part of me wants to rebut with reasons and justification for when I don't -- or haven't -- gotten what I want.
"Yes, I did (or do) seriously want it. But ... < fill in the rationale for why it could not happen; reasons out of our control. >"
In making such excuses, I have to come to terms with the fact that what I'm really doing is "bargaining over the price." More aptly, I'm not willing to pay it.
So when I apply the lesson of "think 'kintsugi'"; the value of challenges, to make you better, I realize that Kipling was right.
It doesn't mean purposely looking for hardship. Nor is it staying stuck in victimhood. It's acknowledging that learning, success, purpose -- all these things -- exact a price.
It's this perspective, expressed so beautifully by Michael Jordan:
Sometimes, as above, the toll we pay is of our choosing. That makes it a bit easier.
Other times, the 'price' is not one we would ever choose for ourselves. Circumstances and events that we would never willingly wish upon ourselves or others.
Yet, in retrospect, we realize that they are part of what made us who we are.
It's the realization that without them, you would not be who and where you are now. The art, wisdom, experience and beauty that are YOU, today.
It's more than acceptance.
It's a lesson in embracing the totality of your experience and your history that got you to 'here'. Now, it's up to you: to choose how you view it and what you do with it.
Watch Dr. Melissa Hughes on YouTube: The Single Biggest Barrier to Success Don't let this barrier be yours!
3rd Take-Away: Have the Courage to Be Perfectly Imperfect
Think 'kintsugi'! the value of challenges, to make you better is, finally, a lesson in authenticity. And, it's a lesson in courage and wholeheartedness.
The art of broken pieces -- kintsugi -- is often likened to its sister Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi. It's an embracing of the imperfect or flawed.
It reminds us that perfection is unremarkable. After all, the unbroken pottery is similar to all other pieces.
In contrast, the mended object has its own history. Its distinguished uniqueness makes it fascinating. After mending, it can only resemble itself.
For us personally, it means being willing to be seen. And heard. To bring our very best to situations, and the all of who we are.
For us as leaders and for our companies and teams, it means having capacity for people. Care. Allowing them to be seen and heard -- because we are paying attention -- and listening.
It also means being transparent. The flaws are not hidden. They are embraced. In fact, they are celebrated. It's a certain kind of vulnerability. It's also a value-added kind of greatness.
This TEDx Houston talk by Brené Brown is well worth the 20 minute investment of time. It provides a researcher's guide and journey to the power of vulnerability. Real authenticity. And, what that can mean to you and those you impact and connect with.
Related post: Deep in 'Should'? 3 Easy Ways to Crush Stress and Gain Focus Free yourself; be your best you.
Letting go of 'shoulds' is a great first step. There's more...
It's the freedom to be who you truly are. For your betterment. And for the betterment of our world.
Like kintsugi, it's the very gap between:
- the facade and vanity of pristine appearance and seeming perfection; and,
- the fractured manifestation of uniqueness that deepens its appeal.
So it is with each of us.
"Being the best is great, it means you're number one. But being unique is greater, because you're the only one." ~ Unknown
All of this is for nothing without action. Your challenges and struggles, like the kintsugi pottery, have made you unique. What you do with that -- how you honour that -- is what makes you great.
No action is too small. In fact, all great adventures and every great feat began with a first small step, then another, and another. What's yours?
Think 'kintsugi'! The value of challenges, to make you better. Who or what is waiting for the difference only you can make?
Related post: Make a Difference: a Tale of Two Choices Stop doing what holds you back. Start doing what matters.
Even leaders need encouragement. Sometimes we thrive. Sometimes we struggle. Companies and people rise and fall on how we handle challenges.
More aptly, on our ability to keep learning. Growing. And, most important: adding value.
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