'Healthy Hard' Versus 'Unhealthy Hard' Challenges
On Jan 27, 2014, I sat across the table from a leader on the verge of taking on a new challenge. As we looked into each other’s eyes, he said to me, “This job and journey will be hard.” I had to agree. The assignment that he was taking on would stretch and challenge the best of leaders. But then I said, “It must be ‘healthy hard.’” No job is worth the devastation that “unhealthy hard” could bring to a person’s life.
When I refer to “unhealthy hard,” I am referring to the long-term, systemic and destructive hardness that our lives are not made to withstand over longer periods of time.
You might be experiencing an unhealthy hard situation if:
- Your role significantly surpasses your capacity and skill-set so that you feel consistently overwhelmed
- The weight that you feel in the role causes emotional, relational and even physical damage
- You are cut off from the resources and support that you need, and vital nutrients cannot get to your system
- Stress and stress behavior are the norms
- You have lost hope as energy and passion are missing from your life
- Getting out of bed morning after morning is a major challenge
- Your reality has turned you into a negative, draining, cynical, self-centered, prideful and destructive person
- You are living in emotionally, relationally or spiritually painful situations and there seems to be no end in sight
My co-worker and I envision a “healthy hard” journey and process for him in this role. Here is what I see for a healthy hard experience:
- The right people resources are in place to supply needed nutrients, vitamins and antibiotics for my friend’s leadership system
- Priorities are clear, making both “yes” and “no” decisions easier to make
- Good processes are in place and decisions are made in a timely manner. “Traction” is the result
- Internal capacity and structure is built
- The challenge brings out your best
- Energy and passion are sustained and expanded
- Creativity, innovation and problem-solving flow
- Energy-drains and “black holes” are identified and eliminated
Is your reality hard?
Is it healthy or unhealthy?
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