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Great Things Can Come Out of Unpleasant Moments

As a seven on the Enneagram, I recognize that one of my gifts is the ability to see and articulate the possibilities. Positive energy and creativity have always been something that comes naturally to me and has often been recognized as a key contributor to the teams I have been a part of.

Over the past two years, this strength has enabled me to help many clients, friends, and family members see the light of hope amongst a very challenging and dark time. It has also sometimes blinded me to see the reality of what is happening within myself and with others. Like any overused strength or unbalanced approach, if left untended for a long time, always results in some type of mind storm or spiral.

Upon reflection, throughout my career, I have discovered a pattern of mostly high moments with a few short collapses. In my younger years, I often didn’t even realize what was happening and quickly buried or avoided the core issue and tapped into my youthful energy to pivot to the positive. In 2016, I had no pivot left and my positivity tank was near empty. In this moment of collapse, I discovered that some of the best things come out of 'crunchy.'

What is Crunchy and How Can It Help Us Get More Out of Unpleasant Moments

Crunchy is a term that I have used for several years which best describes for me the feeling I get when something isn’t right or when I am about to move into an unpleasant experience. I was often very good at coaching folks to recognize and leverage this ‘crunchy’ moment, but in hindsight, recognize that I wasn’t following my own advice. In my book, “In Search of Safe Brave Spaces: A Guide to Unlocking and Releasing Potential” I describe the 2016 event and share some of the discoveries towards recovery and how to better recognize, manage and learn from the churn (my alternate word for crunchy). The three core ideas that I discovered and have been applying to understand and leverage the crunchy/churn are:

  1. Explore it – Understand what creates your crunchy. What are the conditions within which it shows up? Where do you first sense it? And how do you react to it? A simple journaling exercise that I have found helpful that I share in the book is the Energy Explorer Exercise. In this exercise, you track when you feel crunchy using four simple prompt questions. This process is a great way to reveal your personal triggers and enhance your personal Energy Doppler System to better predict the arrival of the churn.

  2. Accept it – This is both the action and an Acronym to help you deal with the churn in the moment. When you sense the crunchiness arrive, choose to ACCEPT it:

    1. Acknowledge where and what you are feeling.

    2. Capture the energy of the churn, imagine you have the power to do so.

    3. Confirm the real ‘truths’ of the situation.

    4. Envision the situation/outcome you desire.

    5. Pivot the energy to your vision.

    6. Transform the outcome.

  3. Manage it – As I enhance my internal doppler system and sense the arrival of churn, the ACCEPT model helps me manage it in the moment. Although this is often very helpful, I have discovered that often crunchy is a signal and pathway to learning and growing. To help reveal these pathways I have begun to choose to SAIL. When I SAIL I:

    1. Stop and breath (create space to learn).

    2. Acknowledge & allow the churn, don’t try to deflect, or reframe it, just sit in it.

    3. Investigate – What might be behind it? How is it impacting me? How is it impacting others? What is helpful here? What is a hindrance here?

    4. Learn and Let Go – Apply the helpful and let go of the hindrances.

In Order to Get to it, You Have to Go Through it

There is a famous Zen saying that states, “in order to get to it, you have to go through it”. By way of tools such as the Enneagram and enhancing my physical self-awareness through meditation, I have begun to choose to enter into the churn and learn from the crunchy. For someone who historically avoids these places, it has been a struggle. However I am making progress and the insights discovered have been impactful in both my personal growth and my relationships as a leader, spouse, father, and friend.


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