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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Podcasts Post No. 5: Feeling Lost and Facing Loss

I have had the tremendous privilege of being invited to walk alongside people during the most intense times of life: birth, courtship, marriage, divorce, mental illness, betrayal, terminal illness, long-held secrets... you name it. The highs were very high and the lows often felt consuming and unbearable. While I have cherished the profound joys shared, I have found that part of why I am able to draw such deep delight from them is that because I have also been dragged through the depths several times. And those times are so agonizing as to be truly "breath-taking." There is nothing to say in the face of deep pain and fortunately I learned rather early on just to SHUT. UP. and sit with someone.

This might seem rather heavy and perhaps you would rather skip this post altogether. But in the midst of my work in the past month I have talked with two people who are depressed, and it has been important for them to actually just acknowledge that to another person. So I bring it up here and want to remind you that the odds are quite good that someone you know (if not you yourself) is depressed. And it is a great gift to that person to remind them that they aren't alone. As Andrew Solomon says in one of the posts I'll be recommending,
"I think depression is, above all, an illness of loneliness. I think the sense that you are unable to do things and that no one can help you — eventually, you go to a doctor and he gives you some kind of medication, or you go to another kind of doctor and he gives you psychotherapy, or, in fact, you go to a priest or a minister or a rabbi or somebody like that, who tries to encourage you and to keep you going through philosophical and theological argument — but you lose the sense of the inevitability of your own being alive. And that’s the most lonely, isolating feeling."
Since this is a blog about leadership development, I am here to remind us all that part of being a leader will certainly require us to persevere through incredibly difficult times, and crucial to our growth in maturity and depth will be the willingness to walk through the fire rather than numb ourselves or do anything possible to avoid the pain. Both of the podcasts I list today are quite powerful arguments for why we must learn how to get through the sadness and grief.

Both episodes come from the same podcast and I cannot recommend it enough. It is called On Being, which describes itself as, "Conversation about the big questions of meaning in 21st century lives and endeavors — spiritual inquiry, science, social innovation, and the arts."

Listen to these if you are interested in learning from those who have walked these roads and come out on the other side as deeper, more sensitive and thoughtful leaders:

Parker Palmer is the author of the book Let Your Life Speak, which is on my list of the top five books that have impacted my life. If you're looking for a brief but extremely thought-provoking book that will prompt reflection on career, vocation and purpose, this is what I recommend. (Then again, my chiropractor thought it had too much "touchy-feely" stuff, so there you have it!)

I listened to the podcast regarding Sheryl Sandberg's untimely loss of her husband twice because it was so moving to me. Buckle up for a surprisingly vulnerable and generous interview.

Thanks for reading this far. Please let me know if you found either or both of these podcasts valuable. As leaders we need to create space for people to enter such times when they comes. As Sandberg said,
“I have lived 30 years in these 30 days. I am 30 years sadder. I feel like I am 30 years wiser.”
May we learn to walk with others when they are in such places, and be brave enough to invite others into our own struggles when they occur. Godspeed.

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