“Time heals all wounds” is a popular saying, but it’s wrong.
Time doesn’t heal wounds. How we use time heals wounds. Time doesn’t determine when we pick ourselves up off the ground – we do.
Some leaders cause irreversible damage to their teams in the aftermath of a change that causes pain by using the “get over it” technique…which means it will be a long time before anyone returns to previous levels of engagement.
When pain happens (dramatic change we don’t like), it’s easy to relinquish our control. “Okay. This really sucks. I’ll just have to ride it out and in time get over it.” Or, one of my personal favorites: “I’m going to stay angry until things are changed back to the way it was.” Such approaches are illogical.
Here are tips on how to honor the necessary process and shorten the time to recovery:
1) Acknowledge, validate and address the emotions your team is experiencing, with questions like:
a. What makes you angry, disappoints or frustrates you about what took place?
b. What will you miss about this person/the way it was?
2) Share “It’s important we allow ourselves to be real – and we’ll each need different amounts of time to do this.” Then ask:
a. What should we expect of ourselves in terms of engagement in the next few days?
b. What does it look like to be individually and collectively responsible given what’s happened? (Key: Responsibility is a choice – it can’t be mandated.)
3) Then support the team in moving forward, by asking:
a. As we lead forward, in what ways do you want to honor the person/past with our actions?
b. How can we learn from and use this experience to become even stronger and more effective?
c. Why is it important that we use this experience to learn, heal, grow and become better?
Pain is real. It’s vital to address it. In fact, until we do, we can’t be free to move forward – on our time.
These are great. I would add a few experiential notes.
1–When the active grieving is done, there will always be a subconscious passive grieving. This is normal and reminds us that to be human is to live on after grief happens. One of the best actions for passive grieving is to be open and willing to share when another in your circle has a similar pain.
2—Holding on to active grief/pain denies one the opportunity to honor those moments before the event. Do not focus on a life of one day, focus on how ever long the life has been including that one day.
3—Do not hide. Sitting alone in the dark with a blanket pulled over one’s head does not make the pain easier. In fact, it exacerbates the pain, the grief and any anger for what caused this pain. Living requires turning on a light to share be of value with others.
Great post Craig and Steve! It’s painful truth. It immediately brought to mind a book I once read, in fact it’s among my favorite, “Why we can’t wait,” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He wrote within this book “a letter from the Birmingham jail.” It was the heigh of the civil rights movement in America. Socioeconomic injustice for people of color was at the tipping point. Dr. Kings letter was a response to clergy leaders who took the position “time heals all wounds.” It was Dr. King’s opinion that “time is neutral,” to paraphrase. Essentially all time will ever do is move forward, with or without us. However within time it is the actions we take or choose not to take, which will define final outcomes.
I really appreciate your courage.
Rich was an inspiration to us all. these are hard times for us all here. Including those who benefit from his untimely departure via promotion etc.
This “Tip” as you call it is an excellent example of the PDF tool “Personal Development Framework” adapted for team development/recovery. [A “Crisis Specific” PDF Tool]
Just wanted you to know that it helps on an individual basis as well.
With most of our Leadership Cadre either stunned or disfunctional at the moment. this is a great message for the individual as well.
Then again knowing you two this may have been the intent all along…
Thanks for that!
This post is very timely in face of some key changes taken place in our work place. The questions here are excellent and timely as we interact everyday with those around us, I have already used this question and seen positive responses.
What does it look like to be individually and collectively responsible given what’s happened? (Key: Responsibility is a choice – it can’t be mandated.)
Great to have these timely reminders. Thanks
Thank you Craig and Steve for this very important message. I have learned that at times, I need the support of co-workers, friends, and family to heal and move forward. It is OK to ask for help and guidance, as it is OK to offer it when we see others who might need it. Count on your team.
I must have missed reading this in February, and how timely that I am reading it today. John Matthew, your statement in your comment: “within time it is the actions we take or choose not to take, which will define final outcomes.” wow, this string of mindful thinkers comments blew me away. Are you all for real? You mean there are really people that think like you out there in the business world? How encouraging…
A poem I wrote, in a book/a poetic autobiography I hope to publish soon expresses this simply:
“Every decision is a fork in the road,
every road a path we choose,
every path a direction our life takes,
each direction taken,
affecting the next decision we must make.”
I am hoping the next decision I make for myself in my career path will be with people like you.