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What happens when it all goes horribly wrong?

Have you ever had a difficult conversation go off the rails? Have you ever lost the plot and said things you regret? Has anyone ever shouted you down and treated you badly? Boundless Leaders know that when a storm hits, it’s best to let it pass, then clean it up.

I’m watching the last season of Suits right now. It’s a grand tale of sly backroom legal (and not so legal) maneuverings. Rob, a lawyer himself, gets indignant when legal process is mis-represented. There have been several comments of “That’s bullsh*t – that would never happen!”

I tend to cringe when the characters start abusing each other. They yell, they malign, they undermine. Some of the behaviour is truly appalling.

What’s worse is that unlike Rob’s criticism, I know that sometimes we can behave as poorly as the Suits charlatans.

Being a Boundless Leader means being able to navigate the most treacherous of storms, finding a way through in spite of the obstacles.

Sometimes we blow it. Sometimes others blow up. Sometimes we blow up. Things are said that can’t be unsaid. What you thought was a simple conversation unleashed Pandora’s box.

The best way through a storm is to dig in, find your centre, and weather the storm. Once it passes, it’s time to clean up.

Tim’s relationship with his siblings was very strained. They were fighting over the family business. What started as a simple evaluation of the business turned into an all out shouting match where all the family’s dirty laundry and past hurts were dragged up and reopened, with some salt thrown in. It was messy. It was very Suits-like.

In the TV series, the characters often have an epiphany, experience contrition, and offer a heartfelt apology. Amazingly, the colleagues continue to forgive each other and carry on.

In real life, I have found it’s not so easy.

If opening the can of worms turns out to be a giant sized tank of venomous snakes, it’s time to take stock. Can the relationships be repaired? Do you need to apologise or make amends? Do you want to?

We can’t choose our family, but we can choose how we interact with them.

Tim decided to avoid his siblings. Some wounds went too deep. Every time he tried to build a bridge, it got burned down again. He decided that in order to protect himself from further pain, it was best to avoid the situation altogether. He worked on healing and forgiveness privately, without expecting anything from his family.

If we can clean up the mess, clean it up. Breathe through the pain. If we can’t clean it up, practice forgiveness of self and others.

There is a whole ocean of experiences to explore, sometimes with calm seas, sometimes rough. Just keep sailing. There is much beauty to see once the storm passes.

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