Forget the Lessons for Now

DATE: April 18, 2020

BY: Jacqueline Nagle

Any Given Tuesday - Forget the Lessons for Now

An article written and given to my networks in 2016 - relevant to now x

Ever since blurring the worlds of consulting and coaching and watching the growing tide of start-up entrepreneurs hit the scenes, I am constantly surprised and concerned by the increasing drive to have to know the lessons before we can move on from something that has happened. 

We live in a world of constant change. Where what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Where we have to rely on our Emotional Intelligence, our ability to pivot, and a deep understanding of our work to be able to bring our best to our business, our clients, and our teams every single day. We cannot simply reach a point and relax anymore – and truthfully, this is not a new world, this world has always existed.

Hitting challenges and a burning desire to understand the lessons is universal. It is not the exclusive domain of entrepreneurs, start-ups, executives, or the C-Suite. It pervades every part of our life, in every area, at every level that we work at. 

It is something that is almost inevitable. But the need and belief that we have to understand the lessons in the events and the challenges is causing increasing inertia.

And in a world of rapid fire change, this is not something any of us can afford to do.

Because sometimes the lessons won’t show themselves for some time. Sometimes bad things happen to great people. And sometimes the only way out is through.

It is in taking a deep breath, to know immediately the mistakes you won’t repeat, and working out what is the single next step you can take.

And finding the lesson unexpectedly, when you most need it, when you hit a brick wall you didn’t see coming. I know this personally.

In 2004, my 2IC, my partner in crime, and about to be business partner in a multi-million dollar recruitment business, suffered a breakdown successfully taking her own life almost six months later. The impact on every level personally was immense, and my team only marginally less. It escalated rapidly when her husband accused me of being responsible for her death at the wake. 

There were no lessons to be learnt at that time. I became someone who functioned with a high level of grief ever present; I had a husband, young children, a team, 80 staff out in the field, and a multi-million dollar business, all of which needed me.

And not a single moment to take a step back and work out what the lessons were. The only space I had was to work out what the next step was, and the step after that, and the one after that. 

To focus on the people around me and what they needed. To focus on the strategies and the solutions that would let our clients know we were still alive, still breathing, and still able to deliver. To quite literally keep the ship afloat.

It is not an experience I wish to ever repeat. And it is one that tears at a soul level when I hear someone else going through something similar.

But what I do know is this; the lessons weren’t learnt then. 

There were glimpses and flashes throughout the years to come, but when the lessons were learnt and more importantly, understood, was in the last few months, almost twelve years later, when I had to lean into the most spectacular business failure I could have imagined. 

The apparent resilience, dignity, tenacity, ability to move through and recover that have dominated messages and conversations and meetings in the last few weeks – they weren’t learnt now. They were forged in the events of 2004, and they gave me the insight I needed to move through everything so far in 2016.  

And what I can recommend is this. 

Let go of needing to know the lessons everything right now, in the moment.

Understand the best thing you can do is something, because the lessons only become clear in the action you take. 

And give yourself permission to breathe.

Jacqueline x