Tapping Into Hidden Pain: Outdoor Retailer Day 3
Tapping Into Hidden Pain Reveals Our Unresolved Emotional Burdens
Day 2 at Outdoor Retailer was a come to Jesus moment for me. I had to let go of my past to embrace my future. And that mean to tap into the hidden pain that manifested as panic attacks. Day 3 of Outdoor Retailer was a chance for me to continue the momentum of leading and coaching but on a more personal tone.
On Day Three, Hannah and I spent our time reaching out to different professionals and retailers at Outdoor Retailer. It was our chance to connect with those organizations who not only aimed for business growth, but cultural growth. I learned that not one company was immune from the internal struggles of bad leadership, poor personal performance, and pervasive negative attitudes that keep us from gaining mutual understanding.
A man told me in all transparency, “My colleague isn’t doing her job and it shows in her products. The other lines are doing great and now they have to listen to us. But her products are terrible. And, of course, since she’s married to her boss, nothing will change.”
One working mother told me, “I just wish it were possible to get paid more money and do less work.”
I responded, “With more value that you offer, this is possible. But it’s not possible if you offer the same value as you are now.”
These conversations made up my day – they make up every day at Leslie Inc., honestly.
To the average person, this all sounds like complaining. But it’s not. It’s a cry for help. There is hidden pain in every single conversation. Just listen to your friends talk. They’re code for hidden pain.
I learn a bit about Morse Code from my dad and grandpa. It taught me to listen for patterns and the hidden messages in a string of data. When I listen to someone talk, I look for the hidden pain. And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that people are always asking for help. They just don’t know how to explicitly demand it until it gets outwardly painful.
I realized that giving someone “the ultimate answer” isn’t going to do it. They don’t want “the ultimate answer”. Fundamentally, people are looking for steps. So, I propose the next step – come see me.
The phrase “Go see Leslie” was being tossed around by others I knew at the event so regularly, that we joked that it should be come a hash tag: #goseeleslie. I kid you not, #goseeleslie became a real thing.
Revealing Hidden Pain By The Touch of A Hand
Hannah and I were invited by my friends at Outdoor Retailer to a fashion show and party at the Red Rocks ampitheatre. We were escorted onto a private shuttle bus where pizza was waiting for us. Other guests made their way onto the bus, while we took a moment to rest our feet for the night that awaited us.
Little did I know that I would make friends that evening with a group of men who’d reveal their own hidden pain. We immediately bonded after a mountain hike up the Red Rocks in freezing cold weather. There is nothing like a long, burdensome walk with people that seems to connect people for all eternity.
After hiking what felt like an eternity, our group made it to the top at the VIP party where, in a bustling crowd, we found our drinks and a table to catch our breaths.
I sat next to my new hiking companion, Tony*, a tall, bearded man in his late 50s, where we began chatting and explaining how we know each other through our mutual friend Chip*. We discovered that we both grew up in Florida. I told Tony that I knew how to read people, to which he immediately responded, “I was a firefighter, I like to think I can read people, too.”
I laughed, and asked, “Can you see their past, present, and future energy, too?”
Tony was shocked by the misunderstanding and was surprised by the reveal. He immediately replied, “What do you see in me?”
I remembered that Tony briefly mentioned his knee on the hike. I touched his knee and said, “I hear that what is affecting your knee is connected to you mother and, on the business side, it feels like you’re not feeling emotionally supported right now.”
Tony’s eyes widened and he said, “I lost my mom when I was eight. And, I think about her every day. I was just thinking about her earlier today.”
He continued, “Right now, I’m transitioning my products to only selling products of those companies who are focused on being sustainable and ecologically friendly. I told my employees that it’s OK to say no to companies who are not aligned with our values.”
It was clear that Tony was looking to create a sustainable business without sacrificing his values, but knew he couldn’t do it alone. And, convincing other businesses to go sustainable was a challenge he had to take on along the way.
We continued tapping into the hidden pain in his knee, while others at the table listened to our conversation. By the end of VIP hour, I said, “You should ask Chip to tell the ‘Jellyfish story’.”
Revealing The Hidden Pain In Our Careers
Our group wandered to the private balcony overlooking the concert and Denver’s starry horizon. Tony asked Chip to tell his now famous Jellyfish Story.
Chip began to tell the story to his friends and clients who were huddled in a circle so as to hear him speak with the concert blaring in the background.
On Christmas Day, I was working as a life guard in south Florida when a man passed by me on his way to swim in the water. We exchanged hellos as we both went about our days. The man finished swimming and made his way back to his car, but then he suddenly collapsed by his car. Two men said he didn’t look good and I knew it was my job to resuscitate him. I asked the man what happened and he said he thought he stepped on a jellyfish when he was swimming and that he wasn’t feeling too good. I did the best I could to assist him until the paramedics arrived. He had a pacemaker and as they attempted to defibrillate him his back arched with every pulse. They took him to the hospital where he died. My family came from New Jersey just twenty minutes later.
With the somber story, he continued to reveal his source of his hidden pain,
When I first met Leslie, I was skeptical. She sat in front of me and looked at me and said, ‘There’s a man here who says he died of a jellyfish sting. Do you understand what that means?’ I’m swear, there was no way she could have known this information. With Leslie I realized that I burden I carried affected my career for a long time. With her help, I was able to let his giant weight off of my shoulders and move on with my life. So, if you need Leslie’s services not only for her career expertise, but for her other gifts, I highly recommend her. Go see Leslie.
At that moment, every single man who was in our circle with Hannah and I reached their hands out asking for a card. Chip’s moment of honest transparency inspired his friends and clients to literally reach out.
To watch the impact of my client’s honesty was refreshing because so many professionals hide their pain in attempt to show a brave and strong face at work. True leadership requires a level of emotional transparency that, when exercised at the right moments, inspires others to create personal change. Chip did his emotional work, and now he was inspiring others to do theirs.
Hidden Pain Will Always Reveal Itself
The Buddha said that the sun and the truth can never remain hidden for long. Indeed the same can be said about pain.
Fortunately, inside every pain is the truth. And, truth truly is the path to salvation and personal freedom.
If you’re carrying hidden pain, realize that this is the sign that you no longer have to carry it anymore. Because, the more you carry it, the more the signs of wear and tear start to show. Don’t wait months or even years to free yourself from pain. And don’t certainly wait until death! There are solutions and they are simpler and more effective than you presently know.
*names have been changed to protect privacy.
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