Here are the next group of responses to my email appeal for understanding.  If you want to read the original email, please see yesterday’s post (November 12, 2016).

 

#8

Hi Bev-
I woke up yesterday feeling very depressed about the election results and our country. I honestly don’t know what I find more upsetting…that Donald Trump will be our next President, or that nearly half of the country would vote for such a close-minded, narcissistic bully. I honestly can’t help you to understand, because I do not understand myself. I guess as I have had a little more time to digest the news I realize that there is a lot of discontent and pain in the country, and I don’t think we can lump all Trump voters together as to what prompted their vote. I’m not sure what the way forward is…but I am going to try and do what Hillary suggested yesterday in her gracious concession speech. Keep an open mind about Trump and give him a chance. Although even as I am typing that I feel very, very skeptical. I woke up this morning and said a prayer for Donald Trump. That his heart would be softened and that he would seek wisdom. I felt a little better afterwards. So perhaps the way forward is to remain civil, disagree in a loving way when called to do so, pray for Trump and our country, and continue to live out and work toward the values that we hold dear.
I would be interested in your thoughts. This is a tough one to swallow!
Take care.
Love,
XXX
P.S. It was kind of ironic…I happened to go to my Afterschool program yesterday afternoon where I volunteer. Several of the teacher aides are refugees from Nepal and are muslim. We had a baby shower for the Director of the program…and these wonderful, kind-hearted aides who hardly have two cents to rub together for their families brought in the most amazing food, baked an incredible cake, and bought or hand-crocheted the most lovely and generous gifts. I would love for Donald Trump to meet them and to see what I see…how they are beautiful additions to our country, and we should be glad that they are here!

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#9
I’m reaching for anything uplifting and inspiring. A good read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-this-disabled-mexican-jewish-woman-isnt-afraid-of-the-trump-administration_us_58239c88e4b0e80b02cead5f

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#10
Hi Bev,
First of all thank you for sending this em, I got a lot of comfort when I saw your em this morning. I was so stunned and disoriented this morning. Like you I have decided to stay away from news for a while to process and heal.
Well my friend it was my first time voting in a national election. I became a US citizen only a year ago! I continue to feel blessed that I got to vote.
As I look forward I am looking at two initial ways to move on from this feeling of what just happened here. First I need to use my meditation practice to focus on an open mind to what lies ahead. In addition, when I am ready to review the autopsy of what happened, I would like to put myself in the shoes of a range of Trump supporters to try to understand what the draw was. I feel that this will help me see their point of view better as well as help me heal and get back to center.
Sending you peace, love and hugs.

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#11
I have struggled to respond because I am still processing. I have not even read the other replies yet. There are so many factors and realities that I find in this outcome that I struggle to get my hands around all of them. But here are a few of my thoughts….

The result makes me believe that the division in our country is even greater than I realized and I have not been paying attention (neither has the media, liberal to moderate Americans, pollsters, etc. but Trump did and maximized on it). Sadly, I believe some of the vote was a hate vote, but hold on to faith that not all who voted for Trump share in that hatred.

The result also makes me believe we are further behind in women’s equality than I thought. And I am disappointed in myself. About nine years ago I shared with my friends that I was certain that America would elect a black man before a woman. I did not say it with sadness (because a wonderful barrier was broken with President Obama’s election), but with steadfast believe from many of my working experiences that men and women continued to hold women to a different standard, were sexist without understanding they were, and many, many barriers existed to women knowing equal rights and equal success in business and politics. I am disappointed that I thought it was different a decade later and did not see that America would not elect a white woman over a white man. But I was certain that the barriers would be hurdled given that the male choice was hateful, lacking civility of any form and had no qualifications for the job. I was wrong.

As for the question What Now…..I believe women must rise stronger and fight harder than ever. Our facilitation skills and nurturing tendencies are needed more than ever. We must use our gifts and help our nation heal and find unity. We must be leaders in reaching across the aisle, holding fast to the believe that we can find common ground – it is simply not that difficult. We are built for this stuff! And we must be prepared to protect those who need protection like a mother lion looking out for her cubs. People of color and religious minorities as well as white people who love these people are scared. No less than three friends of mine who are minorities or have minority children shared this week with me how afraid they are. For those of with privilege, we must use it for the greater good and lend its claim to our neighbors who feel like they have been left in the cold.

While we must be prepared, we must also not despair but draw on our faith to answer this difficult time. We are not alone. I know God is with those who love and so is half of our country who just rejected wanting to live in a hateful, hopeless nation.

May God bless you Bev, all women on your email, the United States of America and ALL of its citizens!!!

Sending you hugs my friend!!!

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#12

Regarding your first question to me…I was in shock and disbelief all the way up to 2:00 am when it was likely a done deal. I shut the tv off and before going to bed, I spent a few private, quiet moments in something like “prayer.” Some of my thoughts were “requests.” For strength, wisdom, and compassion for myself for this time in history. I also requested the same for all of the leaders of our country. I also found myself expressing my gratitude to be living in this time and place.

What surfaced almost immediately last night and this morning was my persistent underlying optimism. The feeling in those moments reminded me of another moment in time when my job and career were directly undermined–IRS was consolidating 7 Regions into 5. We in the Mid-Atlantic Region were a certainty…until at the very last minute, our Region was abolished!! I remember all my co-workers wringing their hands incessantly and being obsessed with worry. I don’t know where it came from but I found myself calm and confident–not stressed at all. I remember saying to myself, what’s the worse that could happen to me with my tenure? My imagination walked through a worse case scenario that would take about 2 years to unfold. I reminded myself that I was a competent, hard-working, likeable employee and that I could weather that possible outcome. And, that in the meantime, I knew I would find something else.

That’s a moment in my life when I fully realized that it is an “abundant” Universe. And that just because one opportunity dissolved, it didn’t mean that no others would become available.

Last night and this morning that same sense of stability came over me. While I detest much what Trump stands for, I do want him, our government, and our country to succeed. Last night I reminded my best friend that this country survived a revolution, a bloody civil war, several world wars, 911, and other big crises…and we got through them all. Having Trump as our president is not as horrific as any of those earlier events in our history. We will work it out. And for me personally and my family, friends, colleagues, community, and other connections, we will make our way even if we don’t know exactly what that way will be like. We will figure it out.

This wave of optimism in the midst of great disappointment did not leave me painless. Hillary’s message this morning was not possible to watch without a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. I am grateful that she was so dedicated to serving our country in such difficult times and under such personal attack.

My sadness and disappointment are still hanging around and will for a while. But I won’t let it consume me and I feel competent that I, and we, can ride out the storm. I can and will continue to do all I can do to take care of myself and my loved ones and to contribute to the greater good.

Thank you for asking for our reflections. It was useful to think through how I feel and to explore what my small presence is in the larger world. I am confident about not just surviving but about thriving.

That’s my 2-, no, 50-cents worth.

Be well.

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This was a “letter” that one of my girlfriends on the original email sent me that was composed by her daughter. It has a link for a letter to Hillary.

#13

Friends,

I don’t know about you, but the shock and pain from Tuesday night have barely begun to wear off. I keep finding layers of reasons to be sad…and I keep coming back to thinking about how awful I feel for Hillary as a human being–to say nothing of her political work, or what her loss means for our country.

The only thing that made me feel a little better this morning was to write a note “to Hillary” and commit to what I want to do next. I’m under no illusions that she will ever read it, but for a few minutes, it felt really cathartic. If you’re on Medium, I’d encourage you to write your own–maybe we can even start a series of these letters. Or feel free to share or react to this post, if you feel so inclined. At a time like this, I think it’s really important that we all capture why she is so important to us in personal ways before people move on and lose some of their passion.

View story at Medium.com

It’s been a real honor and privilege to campaign alongside so many of you this year–thanks so much for your support.

Lots of love,

 

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A funny thing happened when I reached out to friends for help with this loss.  They shared their grief with me and gave me permission to share it with others.  For those not grieving or with other perspectives, they shared too.  I am grateful.

Below and over the next few posts you will see my original email and then the collection of responses I received from several of you. I also pulled out some responses from a similar thread that was started in the Georgetown Leadership Coaching community. Those will come toward the end of this series. Per one wise woman’s suggestion, I am numbering the email responses below (I did promise confidentiality so I’m not including names). That way if you want to comment on any particular email, you only have to refer to an email number.

I know this is raw for many of us and will continue to be so for some time. Mourning is a process that takes time. One thing that such a divisive campaign can lead to is polarization. A candidate is all right or all wrong. He/she is great for the country or awful for the country. Our strong feelings lead us to opposite poles and any suggestion of compromise or taking good with the bad feels like salt in an open wound.

So for some of you, there are a few responses here that do provide an alternative look at the issue(s). I encourage you to breathe deeply, perhaps get a glass of wine, and try to read with a compassionate and open mind. I love you all and appreciate the thoughtful responses, perspectives and suggestions for the way forward.

I added my two cents and that perspective will come at the very end of the series, after the wonderful Richard Rohr quote that one of you graciously sent to me.
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(Original email)
Hello Ladies,

I have blind copied about 18 women on this email because I truly do want your perspectives on how this election outcome just happened. I think you’ll just have the option to reply to me and so, again, it keeps your identity confidential. If you want me to share your thoughts with the rest of the group, I can certainly do that….but, I am truly looking for perspective on this.

I know some of you, like myself, are registered Republicans. Some of you may have even voted for Donald Trump. I am sincerely not looking to cast blame…I am looking for thoughts, ideas, and understanding. I am not even listening to the news reports any more because they clearly didn’t have a sound understanding of the country’s sentiment and what the Donald Trump candidacy meant to the voters in our country.

I’m also looking for a way to move forward that honors my own values and respects the values of others. In other words, I truly still believe in civility through this process. I think cooler heads are going to need to prevail.

Thank you in advance for your wisdom and thoughts. I value each and every one of you and that’s why I’m asking.

Peace and blessings to you all! God bless the United States of America.
Bev

Here are the different responses I have received thus far:

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#1
Bev

I wish I could help you understand my friend, but today I feel rattled to my core. The last time I felt this stressed about the world was 9-11.
I literally sit here trying to preserve my personal sense of center and lessen my stress and deep feeling of disappointment in people. We can not control or even really know what is ahead of us so I have decided to assume the best and not the worst. What he does will not change who I am or how I plan to treat others. We need to support each other and hold tight for what be a rocky ride. We are America as a collective, America is not one person, so together we can be strong, divided we will struggle.
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#2
Hi Bev,

How are you feeling?

Oh Bev. My children are heartbroken. It is their future we have compromised in fear (of difference) and bitterness (and I truly believe, misogyny). I want to hope that somehow people will rally to support Trump and help him to do the right things in terms of the well-being of humans in our country. For sure we must stick together. I am trying to go high, as Michelle Obama counseled. The supreme court appointments, the energy industry…we all need to pray for Trump to have some sort of perspective and wisdom which he seems to greatly lack. Change is one thing, but this feels kamikaze. I am very uncomfortable at the moment, but I trust we will rebound. I hope the destruction is limited.

I will work to focus on gratitude, integrity, using my voice to protect and heal to the best of my ability. Maybe I shouldn’t be responding so soon but this is how I feel now.
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#3
Well Bev. . . You know that I struggled on how to vote and did so up until I voted and even after. It was one of the few times in my life when I didn’t know what was the right thing to do. I believe the people spoke very loudly that they wanted change (even willing to overlook “all” his faults), didn’t want a “career” politician with status quo continuing and some may have voted for what they thought was the lesser of the two evils. Will we ever truly know?? Major wakeup call for Washington and our overly liberal media.

Economics/finance is always my go to for voting purposes, but did extend my voting thought process due to a bi-partisan article I recently read, which did not tell you who to vote for (believe it or not), but stated that you should look at the candidates on their policies (overlook who they are), because they will dictate who will be on the supreme court and the direction of our country for the next 20/30 years or more. Gave details on the aging of the Supreme Court, etc. and stated that this was a much bigger issue than a 4 year term president.

My thoughts are, we are a great, strong and resilient country that will survive this presidency. Sort of like family, we may fight amongst ourselves, but an outside party says or does something and we have each other’s backs. I hope, pray and am trying to believe (based on him being a successful businessman) that he will surround himself with competent, knowledgeable people that will help guide him through the next four years. While I may not like The Donald as our president, I love the USA and will support my country and their leadership.

My true thought is: BALL IS IN YOUR COURT DONALD TRUMP

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#4
Hi Bev,

What a thoughtful email. I rallied my little team this morning as they are shocked and frightened. We talked about the power of social media and the anonymity it provides that allow people to say hateful, racists, bigoted statements.

But to your bigger question of how do we move forward, I really feel like it is time for all of us to stand up to hateful speech and to put out our own messages of hope and faith instead of just turning our heads and ignoring it. I also think we all need to communicate more with our politicians so that they do not operate in a bubble but understand more.

Thanks for asking. I look forward to all the answers you receive. I hope you will post them in your blog which I used as an example of positive, powerful speech!

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#5
God help us

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#6
Hey Bev, I am baffled. Pretty much speechless. I’m trying to find the positive but unable right now. How did we get here? My refuge is always prayer. There are just somethings that only God can fix. God help us all!!!

Sorrowfully submitted and your friend,

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#7
Thought I’d send this along to you as we grasp for a way to comprehend and respond (forwarded email from a close family member):

To some family and friends: attached are some examples of grace in politics — the very model of humility and faith operating in public arena. The country is going to need a lot of this, coming from all corners.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/442008/may-god-bless-president-trump

 

More in the next few days.  Peace be with you.

 

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Well, some of my followers heard from me this week as I struggled to make sense of Tuesday’s election.  It will probably not come as a surprise to you that the author of a blog with the concept “grace” as its cornerstone, as well as an ardent student of “servant” types of leadership, would not be a huge proponent of Donald Trump’s.  So when Tuesday’s election results became a reality in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, I was stunned and downtrodden. What I have learned through the help of life’s losses, good friends, and wonderful coaches is when you feel most vulnerable, reach out for help.  So I did that.

So, this is a repeat for some of you, but over the course of the next few days, I will post the email I sent to approximately 18 of my girlfriends/colleagues and the thoughtful responses they returned to me.  In addition, I am now a part of a Georgetown email community and a similar thread was started by one of the community members.  I will include a few of those responses.

I know some of you who follow this blog are Trump supporters.  I congratulate you on the win, and I hope you take these blog posts in the spirit they are meant.  This blog is about grace in all its many forms.  It is about my journey and the lessons I learn in trying to find grace.  I lay open my vulnerabilities and ask you to accept them even if you don’t agree with my viewpoints.  I welcome, as always, your comments and insights.

I will pray for our President elect and hope that he finds wisdom and grace in dealing with the diverse issues that face our American people.  So many are counting on him and his leadership.  Likewise, I will pray for all of us as leaders–and we are all leaders in one form or another–that we have the grace of forgiveness, open-mindedness, tolerance, and wisdom to hold productive conversations and the steadfastness to stand up for the values that mean so much to us.

I will send out the email and some of the responses tomorrow, and I will trickle the rest of the responses out over the next few posts.

As I hope you know, I love and appreciate my followers and am glad to bring you the thoughts and reflections of so many strong women of grace.

 

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A new SWOG to our little community sent me this wonderful photo with a text the other day.

As I read it, I turned to mush.

As I blubbered something– likely incoherent– in thanks to her for such a wonderful message, she made the suggestion that I turn all of you to mush, too!

So here goes.

Often we don’t realize the positive impact we make in the world.  So per a wonderful SWOG’s suggestion, let me pass on this reminder of just how special you are and what a wonderful difference you make.

Shine on, dear SWOGs & SMOGs!  Love you all!

 

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I learned about the Grace of Kintsugi from a classmate of mine at Georgetown.  At the very end of our last class as Cohort 47 of the Leadership Coaching program, we had the opportunity to “exchange” gifts–both physical ones and spiritual gifts of affirmation and encouragement.  This one beautiful SWOG classmate stood in front of the room and told us about the philosophy of Kintsugi.  I won’t do justice to how she shared her story nor to her explanation of how this delicate art is such a metaphor for all of our lives.  Moved to tears is an understatement and words can’t capture the emotional mountains she moved.  I’ll simply explain a bit about Kintsugi and allow you to reflect what it means to you.

 

From Wikipedia:

 

Kintsugi (きんつぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (きんつくろい, “golden repair”),[1] is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.[2][3][4] As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect.[9] Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.[10]

Kintsugi can relate to the Japanese philosophy of “no mind” (無心mushin?), which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life.[11]

Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin….Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.
— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics

 

Think about that for a moment.  Think about being valued for wear and tear and imperfection.  Wow.  I wonder how much of our therapy dollars, our broken relationships, our devalued older generations, our cover-ups and defensiveness come from the intense drive for perfection.  Think of smiling at our scars– both the physical and emotional ones –because they’ve made us a more interesting piece of art.

Let’s start a new movement!  Be proud of those scars and imperfections!  And value those imperfections in others as a true work of art.  As a SWOG far wiser than me once said, “We all make quilts throughout our life…some are just a color or two with nicely coordinating fabric.   Yours is a patchwork of many colors, block sizes, and fabrics.  AND, it’s nice to look at, too.”

Kintsugi on dear SWOG’s!!

 

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A close girlfriend of mine sent me a book this week (you know who you are), and the title is, Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  “Oh, this is going to be good,” I thought to myself, and so I wasted no time digging in.

You can always tell from the number of highlights and margin notes I make in a book just how much it’s hitting home.  I won’t say I have completely turned the pages from off-white to yellow and red from my highlighter and pen, but it’s definitely become a more colorful book as I’m making my way through the chapters.

One story in particular hit home to such a point that I knew I had to share it here.  I don’t have hundreds of followers on this blog–and given how personal I’ve made it at times–that’s OK with me.  The folks who do follow it, however, can likely relate pretty well with this story.  So here goes–in the author’s words:

 

Years ago, (my husband) and I were talking with the pastor of a fast-growing church, and another friend, a more seasoned pastor.  The first pastor was telling the story of how the church had exploded, how they couldn’t stop the growth, how it was utterly out of their control, an inexplicable, unstoppable phenomenon.

The seasoned pastor pushed him gently:  “You’ve built this, and it’s okay to say that.  You’ve intentionally and strategically built a very large church.  It’s okay to say that.”

The young pastor kept protesting, preferring the narrative of wild and unexplained growth.  “We had nothing to do with it,” he insisted.

“Well, not nothing,” said the older pastor.  “You kept putting up more chairs.”

 

“You kept putting up more chairs.”  What a classic line.

In a society that rewards bigger is better, more is better, supersize your meals, too big to fail, work more hours, find ways to be more productive, squeeze more out of your day, deliver more results, find more customers, keep more customers, earn more incentive dollars.  More, more, more seems to be a goal in our western culture.

I looked up the word “more” on Google and it has 37 synonyms…words like “extra,” “higher,” “bounteous,” “amassed,” “farther,” “expanded,” “enhanced,” “larger,” “over and above,” and so on.  It only notes two antonyms–“fewer” and “less.”

Now isn’t that kind of interesting?  Those two little drab antonyms to “more” almost seem to be cowering in shame.  They seem to be hiding in the corner in a different font size, whereas “expanded” and “bounteous” are calling from the rafters.  We reward “more.”  We value “more” over less and so we pack our lives with “more.”  More work, more activities, more goals, more money, more of a house with more of a yard, more expensive cars, more highlights in our hair, a bigger job with more responsibilities, more achievements, more things for our kids to do, more stuff, more upkeep of our stuff and I could list even more and I’m sure you could each add more to this list.

How did the word “more” influence the Wells Fargo cross-sale debacle?  How are the words “more” and “less” influencing the presidential election (more jobs, less immigrants??)?

I was walking out of a board meeting yesterday and I asked a woman whom I hadn’t seen in a while how she was doing.  First word out of her mouth…can you guess?  Yep, it was “busy.”  And I thought, how many times do I answer–have I answered–the very same way?  “Busy” is a badge to “more.”  When we’re not busy we feel guilty about not being busy because of course there is always MORE to do.

So when she asked me how I was doing and speculated that I must be very busy too, I paused before answering.  Having had the benefit of just reading the above story and the entire chapter of how we in western society create our lives, I decided to try a different answer on for size.  I said, “Not really.”  Her reaction and mine was interesting.  She was surprised.  And, I still felt I had to explain.

I am working to get to a point where I am not busy doing “more” AND I don’t feel a need to explain.  Like the author, “I’m going to take down some chairs.”  Will you join me?


Did you ever have one of those experiences waiting in line at a drive-through restaurant–when you get to the payment window with money out ready to hand over, you learn your bill was paid by the car in front of you which is now driving away?  I’ve had it happen twice that I remember and I walked away (or drove away) both times with a big grin on my face.  It literally made my day.  When it happened, I found myself thinking, “Now, how can I repay that person’s kindness; what can I do for someone today that I might not have ordinarily thought to do?”

I had a wonderful experience the other day that some might think on the surface is no big deal.  A girlfriend of mine has a birthday dinner every year on or around her birthday, which is close to St. Patrick’s Day.  She always makes a wonderful corned beef and cabbage dinner.  Well, because of a recent change in my diet due to food sensitivities, she was pretty sure I couldn’t tolerate the time-honored recipe she uses to prepare the food.  She called me to find out how she could accommodate my diet.  Think about that for a moment…it’s HER birthday.  She’s already making dinner for herself and at least four others on HER birthday.  She’s using a traditional recipe that she’s used for YEARS.  Yet she called me to find out how she could help me.  Some folks may not think that’s a big deal…but those of us who deal with food challenges know that it was HUGE.  Thank you, my friend.  Her kindness was heartwarming and made me grateful to be among her friends.

The gift of kindness doesn’t even have to be that hard, it can take only moments in most cases, and it can be absolutely FREE.  Yet it can make a big difference in not only someone’s day, but how they look at themselves.  A consulting firm I used to work for had a leadership model that went something like this:  Level 1 was how you viewed yourself.  Level 2 was how others viewed you.  Level 3 was how others viewed themselves as a result of their interactions with you.  “How others viewed themselves as a result of their interactions with you.”  Do people feel valued after interactions with you?  Do people feel better about themselves after encountering you?  Or, equally important, can you help people over the long run even if kindness is delivered in the form of a tough message–hopefully lovingly delivered?

Think about what a difference you can make in someone’s life today.  Doesn’t have to cost much–just an extension of graciousness to someone who could use a boost.  You have the power to do that for them.  What a wonderful gift!

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You all know how much I like to quote movies.  And most of you know that I’m an incurable romantic.  So when Disney made a live-action remake of its popular animated classic, Cinderella, it was too much for me to resist watching–especially since it was free on a plane trip I made last summer “across the pond.”

I was impressed with what Disney did to bring certain messages out in the story.  Self-acceptance, recovering well from hardship, and remaining hopeful were some of the subtle and not-so-subtle messages.  But, the one that resonated the most with me was the one that was clearly articulated on numerous occasions throughout the 90-minute film:  “Have Courage and Be Kind.”

I LOVE THAT QUOTE.  Those of you that follow me on Twitter know I LOVE THAT QUOTE.  I use that quote all the time.  Why did that jump off the silver screen (or the seat-back screen in my case) and grab my heart?

I’m not totally sure, but perhaps it’s all the work I’ve done in the last six years through all the loss.  I have been moved by people’s kindness toward me in my hours of need.  I’ve been moved by all the readings in the Bible chronicalling Jesus’ messages and examples of love, kindness, acceptance, mercy and forgiveness.  His parables, where he metaphors love for people who seem–on the surface–unlovable, have made me think and consider a different mindset.  I’ve even been moved by Pope Francis and his demonstrated love and compassion for all types of people.  It’s made me wonder why do we take such a polarizing view on things?  Why do people always have to be right or wrong; right or left; black or white?

I haven’t blogged much lately because, as many of you know, I’ve had my left hand and arm in a cast and now a splint for more than five weeks post thumb surgery.  I’m not a great one-hand typist.  But, I was out on Twitter today and saw one woman’s campaign to “pay a message of kindness forward” that she’s determined to carry out.  I would guess it’s being inspired by our country’s present political climate, but I don’t know that for sure.  She’s posting all these great quotes and sayings and I was so inspired, I just had to get on her bandwagon–to heck with the bad thumb!  So here are just a couple of her messages (below).

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It takes 21 days to develop new habits, but let’s just start with ONE WEEK.  I’m going to issue the following challenge…let’s try it!

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So I woke up to this on my Harvard Business Review blog email notification. Tell me this isn’t right up our alley!

How Women Respond to Frustration at Work, and Why
by Kathryn Heath | 1:00 PM November 5, 2013
Comments (31)

One Monday morning, I rode the elevator with an attorney who works in my building. She was fuming. Apparently, she and a male colleague brought an idea to their senior partner meeting. They had both been over-the-moon-eager to make the pitch and spent the week preparing a full presentation with video clips. Then, five minutes into the pitch their hopes were dashed. The managing director didn’t like the idea and he was in a hurry to close the meeting. He shut them down with a blunt remark, leaving zero room for rebuttal. My friend was in a spiral. The experience ruined her weekend and she was still thinking about it days later. She felt humiliated and couldn’t let it go. You’d think that her colleague would be equally insulted by the shabby treatment. Yet, according to her, he was barely fazed. He took the setback in stride, essentially brushing it off.

Everyone has bad moments and foiled presentations, but not everyone carries it around with them for days or weeks. One anecdote does not indicate a trend, of course, but other evidence suggests that there may be a gender divide in how men and women respond to frustration at work.

This is a common topic of discussion in my coaching sessions with female executives. They report feeling disappointed and sometimes defensive when a decision or debate at work doesn’t go their way. Similarly, my review of 360 feedback reports indicates that women harbor what my colleagues and I refer to as “retained angst.” That is, they second-guess themselves and take negative moments to heart for an extended period instead of reflecting on the incident and letting it go. On average, the managers we speak with say that they see more women than men “taking it personally” when the tide turns against them. In addition, in a 2013 survey of 270 female managers in Fortune 500 organizations, including McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, and Walmart, and follow-up interviews with 65 top managers, my colleagues and I found that both male and female executives reported that women have a more difficult time letting go of bad experiences at work. They blame themselves, feel insulted, or harbor resentment for days at a time.

When we asked a senior HR Manager about this he said: “…from my vantage point, I’ve seen that women in business settings struggle with frustration and get defensive when they are challenged. [The problem is that] this takes away their power.” He went on to agree that men are able to express their frustration without sacrificing their authority.

In our interview transcripts, we found a few common threads that help to explain why women may be more likely to feel frustrated and let it show.

1. Women have more to prove. In the executive ranks of many companies women are still playing catch-up in terms of pay equity and promotion opportunities. With fewer female peers to pull them into upper management, the stakes to “get it right” in office interactions are high. Some women report feeling more scrutinized than their male colleagues. (Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives, calls this “skirtiny.”) As a result, they feel that they need to be perfect. They become stressed and upset when they don’t meet their own impossible expectations or live up to the scrutiny of others.

2. Men think of business as a game, while women want meaning. Many women and men despise the use of sports and battle analogies in business. And yet, many men told us they’ve internalized more than women that business is like a game—you win some and you lose some. One COO told us, “Women internalize things. Whereas men realize that sometimes you lose the battle but you can still win the war.” In other words, know they need to “live to fight another day.”

This difference may connect back to the idea that women, more than men, want to find meaning in their work. A groundbreaking survey from 2010 showed that meaning in work is a prime predictor of high satisfaction for working mothers. While men commonly cite their paycheck as the primary motivation, this study and others tell us that women may be looking for something more.

3. Men keep it inside. Be it constructive criticism, verbal opposition to their ideas, or simply a perceived slight, both men and women can become frustrated by intense opposition. That being said, my experience as a coach, as well as the interviews I conducted with my colleagues, tell us that women simply admit their feelings of frustration more readily than men. They vent, while men maintain a poker face.

This brings us back to our female tax attorney and her male business partner. Is it possible that he was more upset than he is willing to admit? When I asked him, he just gave a little smile. He’ll never tell.

More blog posts by Kathryn Heath
More on: Gender, Morale, Personal effectiveness

KATHRYN HEATH
Kathryn Heath is a principal of Flynn Heath Holt Leadership (FHHL). She is co-author of Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power (Jossey-Bass; September 2011). Join the conversation at FlynnHeathHolt.com and on Twitter @FlynnHeathHolt.com