A number of years ago I participated with a group of leaders in an outdoor exercise designed to achieve greater success by pushing through fear. The exercise was done in silence. We climbed to the edge of a cliff that was about 15 storeys high. There we put on a secure harness and walked until our toes touched the edge. We were then instructed to lean out over the edge with our arms spread out like an eagle.
I went with a friend who had knee problems and who was also afraid of heights. I could see her difficulty as she was climbing on the way back down, so I offered her my hand to help. Instead of appreciating my effort, she broke the code of silence and screamed at me to “Go away – leave me alone!”
I was devastated. I was trying to help and she screamed at me. My first reactions were defensive. I turned and walked back down the mountain muttering and mad. As I walked, I thought about what had happened and the choices I had. I could carry on muttering, being resentful, and being a victim or I could accept that there must have been a good reason for her reaction and accept it is what it is.
I chose to accept that it was a situation I could not change and that I would need to be at peace with it. As it happened, the reason she screamed at me was that she was scared for my safety, believing that if she slipped she might have taken me with her. I had made an incorrect initial judgement.
There are times when situations at work can be frustrating and annoying. Often it is because something went wrong, but not always. Sometimes, we react to something that is actually no big deal, but we jump to conclusions, just as I did with my friend. Either way we have a choice; we can accept it is what it is or we can show frustration, get stressed and waste time.
Learning to accept reality is important. Think before you jump to conclusions or react hastily. Understand that accepting is the key. If a misperception has occurred, then the issue should be addressed to ensure everyone learns for the future.
We should gather the facts before we act. Dealing with reality with an open mind will make a great difference to the people with whom you work, and in the long run, to the success of the organization.