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What To Do With Difficult News

  Steve Scanlon     Dec 03, 2014

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I want to tell you a story.  Actually, “story” might be the wrong the word. “Confession” is more like it. I received some tough news recently in the form of a rejection.  And since one of our convictions here at Rewire is to practice what we preach, I have had to examine my own thinking in the face of receiving difficult news.


So this article is less about giving you, the reader, tips and advice; rather it is an open confession about what I observe in myself when faced with adversity.  I suspect we all will face trying times and tough days, so I trust this will resonate with you, too. Bad news comes from both our personal and professional lives. Bad news often has the power to throw our work-life balance off kilter. 

 

Our brains do a remarkable job of self-protection. Within seconds of receiving the difficult news, my brain quickly went into defense mode and I seamlessly began to create what amounted to a counter-attack. The thoughts came in waves:

  • “This person was wrong about me…”
  • “They didn’t understand what was actually going on…”
  • “The situation was set against me from the start…”
  • “Basically everyone but me was plainly at fault…”

This went on for some time as my brain concocted ways to justify the difficult news — so as to ease the pain. Were it not for what it is we do here at Rewire, I would have simply let all of this germinate and grow into full-blown disdain, anger and accusation. This was my lizard brain’s way of trying to protecting me.

 

So I let the lizard run amuck for a few hours before I made a decision to think about the way I was thinking. And, as I analyzed my thinking and reaction to this rejection, I decided that vilifying people and situations was not the best solution for me and in fact would not serve me in the long run.

 

That process of thinking about my own thinking is called metacognition. Deploying metacognition is a skill to be practiced and I can tell you that it is not easy. Everyone here at Rewire uses metacognition in his or her own worlds. We are improving as a company and as people as a result.

 

It was a strange, uncomfortable, feeling to have to quiet my own lizard brain.  It’s a little embarrassing that it took me as long as it did, but I told you that this article was a confession.  And today I feel freer because I have quelled any desire for resentment and retribution.

 

Cultures can change, great objectives can be accomplished, businesses grown, simple disciplines and actions can be sustained.  But none of it can happen without each of us having the courage to think about the the way we think.

 

There is an unimaginable freedom when we Rewire.

 

Onward to great things.

 

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Steve Scanlon

Written by Steve Scanlon

Steve Scanlon is the Founder and CEO of Rewire. He loves to see people change the way they think and enter new seasons of growth for their work. If you have a couple of hours, ask him about his new golf swing.

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