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My candid thoughts about teams and leadership. 

The Hardest Question in the World...

It started out like a normal conversation. But then it escalated to the point where I forcefully said, “you never encourage me.”

My husband looked at me in shock. “Never?” he said. “Really, I never encourage you?”

Ever said anything like that? How do you come back from such a statement? In your head you know it’s not true but, in your heart, wow does it feel true.

Thankfully, my husband is the kinder, gentler soul with a faster ability to press the pause button in our relationship. And he knows that a strong response to me will only escalate things further. He quickly apologized for doing anything that would make me “feel” that way. Which, of course, took the wind immediately out of my sails. How do you get mad at a guy who so quickly apologizes? And, yes, he does encourage me. Rats, then I had to apologize.

Yes, we kissed and made up. And, yes, apology is a big part of why we have been married happily for 25 years! I am blessed more than I deserve!

In case you are about to gag from such wedded bliss, don’t worry, there is more to the story!

My thoughts about this moment didn’t end with the apology.

The next day, in the quiet moments before I started my day, I reflected on how quickly our discussion had escalated. When I stopped shifting blame and justifying my words, I realized I had to take responsibility for instigating the fight.

Then I had to ask the hardest question in the world … “why?” How can a three-letter word pack such a huge punch?

What I wanted to say to that question was, “oh, look at the time!” I have an 8 o’clock I need to prep for, dishes to put in the dishwasher, people to email, kids to check on, etc. Anything was more important than answering that question.

“Why”

Nope, not going there. Go away. This is too hard.

“Why?”

Strong, capable women don’t have needs. They just do it. They accomplish. They press forward. They succeed.

“How’s that working for you?”

Ugh. Not well.

“Why, did I say he never encourages me?”

I don’t know.

“Yes, you do. Why?”

Breathe. Reflect. Pray. Breathe. Reflect. Pray.

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This took a bit. Well, actually it took about a week to finally find the reason. Here’s the short version. When I launched my business, I stopped working with several people who encouraged me. It wasn’t with their words but with their actions. They were fun to be around, made me laugh, and just lifted my spirit on a regular basis. It wasn’t that my husband didn’t encourage me, it was that I was missing those fun, laughter-filled moments that just brought lightness – encouragement – to my hectic days. I have since tried to do things that are fun, make me laugh, and lift my spirits. And guess what, I feel encouraged! And, I’m not frustrated with my husband.

Ever had that happen? Gotten frustrated with one thing but it was really about something else? As women, we have a lot going on in our mind. Mark Gungor says “women’s brains are like a big ball of wire and everything is connected. ” Be aware of this. We women do connect everything. Whether it is connected or not. Listen for the statements you make that seem out of place. Take the time to explore them. Ask yourself “why” five times. There’s something magical about doing this. Acknowledge your needs. Finally, be willing to invest in yourself. You deserve it!

Want to learn how to start asking the hard questions to grow as a leader? Reach out, we are here to help!

Susan Rozzi is the president of Rozzi and Associates, a leadership and organizational development company helping good leaders become great! Our programs start with the premise that great leadership skills are a product of time, practice and focused development. Our leadership development, emotional intelligence insight, and career management programs can be customized to meet your desired outcomes and needs. Contact Susan at susan@rozziandassociates.com.

Mark Gungor. “The Nothing Box”. YouTube, 15 June 2008, www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjnLLw5BTmc.

Susan Rozzi