Gaining strength through the struggle

My year has begun with a whoosh. Client work has taken me to Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and other parts of the USA already, and it’s only February. Each interaction has been an unusual challenge. One required me to wear two hats – as both coach and leader of the activity. The next had me running a workshop for eight people, in which there were four distinct stakeholders. And the third had me in a role where I had no authority, yet I was expected to provide clear, stabilising leadership. From the volume of work I’ve dealt with in 2011, it appears that activities in the business world are ramping up.
Businesses seem to be emerging cautiously from a long period of limited organisational growth activity. My mind returns to an old apocryphal, yet powerful story that can be used as guidance in such times.
The story tells of a man who is sitting on a park bench one sunny morning, when he notices a cocoon stuck on the wall beside him. He sees a small slit appear towards the top of the cocoon. The sharp proboscis of the creature inside begins to cut through the skin that has held it during metamorphosis.
Being of a kindly nature, the man takes out his Swiss Army knife – now you see that this is an old story, for who carries a pocket knife in these post 9/11 days? He very carefully enlarges the slit to allow the insect to emerge more easily. It is a beautiful iridescent dragonfly. It sits limp-winged in the warmth of the sunlight, gripping onto the shell of its cocoon –and dies.
The man, in opening the slit, has taken away the struggle out of the cocoon that is a vital step in the dragonfly’s development. As it squeezes through the restriction, fluid is forced into the capillaries of its wing and that pumps them to full shape and effectiveness. The struggle equips the dragonfly to fly.
I have used this story before to illustrate the training concept of allowing people to learn through the experience of overcoming a struggle by their own efforts rather than providing them with an easy, ready-made solution.
In this blog, the story illustrates a different point. Organisations that want to be ready to fly off in the increasingly warm economy should recognise that the recent tough times need to be seen as a struggle that made us strong. As the Germans say, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
Organisations that assess the last two years not by what they have suffered, but by what they have learnt through the struggle to survive and become stronger – these will be the ones who fly.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 3:54 pm and is filed under Alignomics, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

217 Responses to “Gaining strength through the struggle”

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