Changed for Good
November 1, 2021
When I procrastinate, which is somewhat often, I find myself in the Facebook Watch section and see a video from The Dodo of a baby elephant or a short video of a dog being protective of an infant or some Sweet Digs video of someone inviting me into their apartment in Brooklyn. These videos distract me for a minute – sometimes they bring back my dream of living in New York or make me smile as I remember a time in Africa. Sigh.
So, when Facebook ‘realized’ (they are listening…) that I love Broadway (!) they started showing me videos from the last Tony awards. Then came suggested videos from Tony winners and then a suggested video of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth singing the song, For Good, from the show, Wicked.
Now this is gonna cause some readers to not be happy with me, but Wicked isn’t my myth. I didn’t immediately connect to the show. I connect to Les Misérables more viscerally. Power to the People! So, I saw Wicked off Broadway here in SF, didn’t go again and left it in the past. Forget that fact that “In March 2016, Wicked surpassed $1 billion in total Broadway revenue, joining both The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King as the only Broadway shows to do so.” So says Wikipedia. It still wasn’t my show.
Until I found myself in a puddle, sobbing when I heard For Good again just a few weeks ago. The song, for the few reading who might not know it, is sung by two rivals who become friends, ultimately forgive each other in Act 2 and share a lovely moment singing this song. Just writing about the song makes me tear up now.
I have been working with Stretching Your Learning Edge: Growing (Up) at Work for seven months and I have been asked to work with groups who, let’s just say, have interpersonal challenges. They aren’t finding it easy to ‘Engage in Reciprocity’ and many don’t feel that working with members of their group is a ‘value add’ to their work. Some are feeling wounded and are hurt by comments that were made to them in the past. Others don’t have respect for another person’s perspective. Many haven’t learned how to separate social from intellectual friction. I have been there. Learning how to deal with cognitive versus affective conflict is a journey I am still on. And yet, if we are going to grow (up) at work, this is the path we need to be walking.
So, when I heard these lyrics from For Good
“I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return”
“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better
And because I knew you
Because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed
I have learned quite a bit from those who have offered me some ‘creative abrasion’ – stretched me to my edges – they did change me for the better. And that’s when the tears start again.
Given it is the month of Thanksgiving here in the USA, I have loads of thanks to offer to folks who offered me a new perspective and some growth producing feedback. Sometimes it wasn’t offered in as constructive or humane a way as I would have preferred but it did kick my tush and ask me to grow.
In the book, there’s an exercise entitled “Thanks for Nothing” in the Building Resiliency chapter. It asks readers to write a thank you letter (not to be sent!) in which they describe the situation in which they learned something hard – intentionally or unintentionally offered to them as a learning – and to write down what they now know because of that learning – and to do so in a space of gratitude. Consider that painful experience as a growth opportunity. The experience might have been really challenging and painful at the time, but looking back, there was a lesson in there that you can now be thankful for.
So, in this month of thanks, who do you believe you could ‘send’ a letter to? Don’t send it, just write it, with a spirit of gratitude and a spirit of pride – because you knew them (because you knew them) you have been changed for good. Who has changed you for good? Here’s to growing (up).
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
This website, video and article speak to the work I do on wellness and resiliency, diversity and inclusion and having hard conversations. Check them out.
The Atlantic‘s article, The Secret to a Fight Free Relationship