Photo by hidefumi ohmichi / Unsplash

One writer takes the plunge and shows folks how personal growth comes of owning your shit

A great too many folks bark about personal growth without much understanding about what it really looks like. Being "epic" or proving how badass one is has little if anything to do with true personal power, which has its deep tap roots in Goddess energy.

That kind of energy is receptive, vulnerable, and deeply humble. If you mistake those as weak because they are feminine, I will argue that you worship at the altar of authoritarianism and patriarchy. This is real power. All the great religions teach it, but that of course has been replaced with Jesus brandishing a bazooka at anyone using (name your diety)  wants obliterated.

This Medium writer, however, demonstrated real power. Better yet, she shared her story. In my book that deserves elevation.

Laura Williams-Burke, my guess, is probably in her forties. Her bio on her web page doesn't say, but since she's a mom it's a reasonable guess. What interests me is her willingness to own a minor mess she made in her life in such a way that she turned the awkwardness of it into a superb teaching moment-first for herself, where it always begins, and then for her readers.

Lotta respect for that. Here's her piece:

My Friend Called Out My Bad Behavior. What Happened Next Was Surprising
When he told me I was a hot mess, I looked inward and decided to change

I'll leave you to make your own determinations. The part that I admire is this, which I highlighted:

Our relationship — scratch that — our friendship became too important for me to threaten it with awkwardness. I met his lovely girlfriend and was invited into their circle of friends. I learned about forgiveness, grace and the power of communicating about problematic behavior instead of avoiding it because it’s uncomfortable to address.

We elevate ourselves by standing in front of our inappropriate behavior (whatever it might be), remain with the deep discomfort and don't run. Stay the course.

This is what grownups do. It's what emotionally mature people learn to do by practicing this very thing: being willing to be wrong, especially publicly, and not shirking the grace that such a lesson invariably holds for us.

The finest and awfullest (yes I made that up) growth moments the Universe ever handed me were just like this or worse. Sometimes much worse. Yet, as with Laura's story, when I have been able to stand in the face of that, apologize as necessary, own my shit and stay the course, a completely different version of me comes out the other end.

I am not always good at it. Please. Please. Sometimes my pride trips me up, and I pay a far higher price for it.

This is what Big Girl Panties look like. Especially for men. Why? Because it’s big GIRL panties.

Sadly, it's rare.

Personal power, integrity, confidence and grace grow where such humility fertilizes our souls.

Of course it's awkward. Geez. Of course it's embarrassing.

That's why when we own our shit publicly, we end up carving a brand new person out of the mistakes we make.

Doing hard things is what gives us confidence. No amount of rah rah and self- affirmations can replace this kind of deep work.

In business this used to be called a "service recovery." Contained in every mistake a brand makes with the buying public is an even more important opportunity to fix the problem, and to do so in such a way that the client gets committed for life. Mistakes are inevitable; they are part of growth, but only as potential until we embrace the inherent opportunity.

Again: growth isn't always an outcome of mistakes. People today appear to be far more committed to protecting their "dignity," even when it is obvious to absolutely everyone that they already have made utter fools of themselves and the sole path to any kind of win is to be wrong. Witness Trump, Clinton, most politicians, parents, pundits, preachers, priests, people who lose all dignity and respect far faster by not owning their shit.

The Catholic Church, most churches, so concerned with their own (fake) righteousness that lying and protecting evil behind their closed doors has eroded any semblance of moral authority. Society is rife with such examples.

That's why the high road has plenty of room.

There is great moral courage in owning the messes we create. There is greater moral depravity in denying them and doubling down to avoid being made wrong.

That underscores the wrong we already committed, and makes it ever so much harder to come clean. My father never could, for example. When he died we were estranged, so powerful was his need to be right at all costs.

While Laura's story may not strike you as all that earth-shattering, in fact, it is. When you and I choose the high road, in some ways that choice alters our inner experience forever. We may falter, fail and fall again, but having done the right thing, that becomes the bedrock we can safely stand on in the future. We just have to make it a habit.

After a while, integrity becomes the ingrained value, if it wasn't already. You might share the value, but when it comes time to publicly align, well.

The high road is indeed a lonely one. Ultimately it's the only one worth traversing. Which is why when I fall off, and I do, and will again, best thing I can do is own my shit, re-lace my boots and stride on.

With thanks and respect to Laura for her story inspiration.

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Photo by Karsten Würth / Unsplash

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