Digging Up Your Story.

As I stood over the dirt and the filth, watching the big Earth movers do their stuff, I was curious about what we’d find. What was down there?

Sure smelled horrific. Last night, on my street, we were told to put dye drops in our toilets. My house got blue tabs, another neighbor got red, still someone else green.  Now, talking quietly amongst ourselves, my neighbors and I waited for the ‘white smoke’. I had to stifle a little giggle; it felt positively Harry Potter-ish.

And we have a winner. The red dye bubbled to the surface and my neighbors, top of the hill, got handed the bill. Thank you for playing, you are now the recipient of a massive City sewer bill. Although grateful it wasn’t mine, I wondered, what caused the pipe break? What was done there?

Unearthing what had been buried in the 1920’s made me reflect on other excavations we all face in life.  We call them ‘life transitions’ or ‘life changes,’ and the newer word is ‘pivots’ as in life pivots, which is such a fun term for an enormously challenging process.

Reading the life transitions advice today - some of it wonderful, some less so – I marvel it’s packaging - fast, quick, clean suggesting that one can power through, ‘fail fast,’ ‘fiercely converse’ and almost by sheer dint of will, eliminate or minimize most of the inconvenient disruption its presence causes. 

I help people with these inconvenient bumps in the road and no matter what it’s called, make no mistake, when you lose a job or career, or a promotion or a big client, or a relationship, you will be moving some dirt, there may be a big smell, and fast is the enemy of sustainable.

Shifting sands are everywhere.  So take your time, as unpleasant as it may be. Jumping at the first chance to escape ensures that you will only face another shift, at perhaps an even more inconvenient time. Sometimes, especially when you don’t have enough information, wisdom says, ‘stay - excavate.’

It takes courage to ask, ‘what’s down there that makes me nervous? What stinks?’  Who knows what answers you’ll dig up, about the job, the company, your choice to do a particular kind of work?  Maybe you’ll learn that your spouse is the one that’s nervous, not you, maybe he/she is unwilling to excavate because something, a paycheck, a lifestyle, an agreement, will unravel. Maybe it is you, your preconceived ideas of who you’re supposed to be.

There’s a lot down there that can get covered up with the years. One of my clients, a very serious and smart attorney for a Fortune 50 company, ‘forgot’ she was a political and social activist on her college campus, she even had a nickname.  Her excavation led to a career change, re-aligning her with the true deep waters of her personality.  

Nobody wants to do this kind of excavation work, but when your life is off, when you should be happy but you’re not, when the things that used to bring you joy don’t anymore, staying and unearthing the source of the problem is worth it. 

If you can’t stand the stench anymore, time to do some digging.  (thankfully, sewer metaphor concluded.)