Stormy weather: Dealing with difficult news in the here and now

a dark stormy sky with trees in the foreground, seen only in outline.Not a good day so far. Having woken after a glorious weekend I checked my emails to find one with a nasty sting in the tail. An element of a project that I feel is essential is being shelved, unless someone else somewhere comes up with additional resources.

I feel absolute fury and am trying to work out exactly where and what it’s attached to so I can work out what to do next. Usually my posts are about what I have done. This time it’s about what I am doing (talk about ‘being in the moment!’).

Ok – so how do I feel? I have anger balled up in my chest, making it tight and hard to breathe. I have tears on my face. My shoulders feel like they are around my ears and its hard to type accurately as my fingers feel like twigs – brittle and unresponsive.

I breathe. There is little else I can do until some of this storm passes.

So why so angry? I can identify three things:

Shared vision? When you work with people, you develop what you assume is a shared vision, a shared commitment. I tend to work on teams where values are shared and openly communicated. For me, the element under consideration links directly to my values. It is not ‘additional’ from my perspective so I find it an affront when others see it as so.

Ego at large I feel unheard, unimportant and irrelevant. This is ego speak, I know but I have to acknowledge it. My opinion seems unnecessary, superseded by other concerns. Does this mean I then no longer have a place within the work? Do I have anything to contribute that will be useful?

So what’s the plan? I’m known for coming in on time and in budget, for being pedantically ruthless with planning. Things get done, stuff doesn’t get missed out and I am the flexibility that makes that happen. So if more of something is needed, I put in that ‘more’ – usually time, resources, effort. That’s my way, my ‘brand’ if you like. I deliver what I commit to. For me, if you say you’ll do something, that means you do it, end of. I’m not great with stuff changing last minute, or people suddenly realizing that something doesn’t fit in, as to me, that’s all part of the process, planning all parts from the start. This doesn’t mean I’m afraid of compromise, far from it. Or of change when its driven specifically by the needs of the work. This isn’t about that. This is about where something that (from my perspective) was committed to months back, hasn’t been planned for, so now is in danger of not happening.

Ok. That’s useful. The first is core and key. The second I need to dispense with – bruised egos mend. The third is interesting. Scaling up, working with bigger partners means loosening and losing control, which I have to accept. They will work differently, see things differently – their ‘bigger picture’ isn’t mine and I won’t know all the things at play so here I need to tread carefully.

So what do I do now? Much of me wants to walk away. Stamp and scream and flounce right out of the playground. A smaller part of me wants to wreak havoc and disruption – to bring an external gaze to the party as witness. A smaller part still wants to fight on – maybe I haven’t been clear enough, maybe I could have expressed myself better, maybe it’s my advocacy that’s been lacking and therefore my responsibility to keep pushing forwards?

None of me wants to accept that it should be like this. I just don’t think it should.

So what next? Genuinely I don’t know. I know for me, this has been useful. My breathing is almost back to normal. The tears have dried. My fingers are behaving on the keys. And there is stuff to do – on this project and on others too.

Even when stuff knocks you sideways, you’ve got to keep onto and into the day; you’ve got to keep on keeping on.

I saw Hank Wangford in concert last night – loved it. And am holding some of his words in my head right now – ‘One day you’re gonna wake up dead.’ You have to do what you can when you can, right?

Photo by BotheredByBees and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.

4 thoughts on “Stormy weather: Dealing with difficult news in the here and now

  1. I hear your frustrations, and am heartened to learn how well you understand and recognise the young part of you that is functioning at being thwarted and also the adult real frustrations for a project that you have put in your professional skills and passions. You will know only too well that all our obstacles and challenges are where we make our growth and development (yeah, I know, I know!) However, it is true and whatever path you decide around this challenge this is where you will gain even more strength and resources of which you already have a huge amount! sending love Px

  2. Saddened by your disappointment – heartened by your ability to analyse it all and acknowledge honestly the effect it has on you. I will always value open, honest, creative folk like you….. Not much consolation perhaps but least you know your buddies are grateful for who you are and what you do (even from a distance)

  3. I know EXACTLY what you mean about hating to hand over control. It’s something I don’t do well at all. Having the same approach to doing things 200% well I get hurt when others let me down at the last moment, or move goal-posts over and over again. I have yet to find the magic to help me deal with this, Jo, but you are not alone in this.

  4. seeing you delivering the sync se course I think you will find a resolution to all this, have been completly out of things downsizing ,moving and then physically challenged to get up and running again with art myself but nearly there now and your course last 2 years very helpful so even if you have setbacks in the end you will suceed

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