That Dreaded, Six-Letter Word

21 Feb


It stings. It’s fresh and it’s new and it hurts.

And while it’s a six letter word, I hang up the phone feeling pretty confident it deserves a place along side some other, shorter, four-letter words I can think of.

And these four-letter thoughts I’m having?

They’re an initial reaction to some huge news, a big change.

I’m feeling it. My peers are feeling it. We’re all feeling it.

Nobody wants the good times to go. Yet we know, instinctively and through experience, that the second we get that “Oh my gosh this is the best team EVER, I NEVER want it to change” feeling…it’s inevitable. It’s going to change. And probably soon.

And when it does? When the dam to all that awesome finally breaks and gives way?


The feelings at first are a bit like that big wave of water breaking through – they crash and they burn and they’re a little bit sharp.

And that’s ok.

If I’ve learned anything both as a human, and someone who teaches others about the concept of how humans experience change as part of my work, it’s that at first, we react.

And it isn’t always pretty.

Sometimes it’s a four-letter word. Sometimes its a metric crap-ton of tears across a telephone line to your peer. Sometimes it’s a night on the couch binging on OTNB and ice cream.

The best thing you can do?

Let it flow. Let it crash, let it burn, let it break. Keep your professional wits about you, make sure you direct your emotional episode to an appropriate person, and let. Shit. Fly.

There’ll be plenty of time for acting rational later. There’ll be plenty of time for seeing the silver-linings tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the one after that if it takes you that long.

The point is, you don’t need to do anything other than feel your feelings.

Does this kind of thing sound familiar? Maybe the last time you went through a change of your own?

“I want to be disgruntled and swim in the muck for a bit.  And I probably will.  I want to hide in a corner and avoid contact with others.  I want to yell.  Scream.  I want to leave.”

Congratulations. You’re human.

Does it mean you will do any of those things? Maybe some of them. But saying you want to do something and actually doing it is different.

Remember one thing during the time a change is fresh:

You’re allowed to think and feel whatever you want, and you’re not married to a single one of those thoughts and emotions.

In the days and weeks that follow, you don’t have to act on one single bit of the bullshit that parades through your emotions and your mind while you’re processing the change.

Because in the days and weeks that follow, the initial crash of waves will slowly dissipate, an the water will start to calm. Stillness washes into it’s place, and you can finally take a breath, and reflect.

But the water has to calm for in order for true reflection to take place.

So get all your thrashing around and reacting out at the beginning, otherwise…well, have you ever tried to see clear to the bottom of a mud puddle?

You can’t see very far if you keep jumping around in it.

The only way to see clearly, is to stand still…and let the water settle.

So once the reactions are done, once you’ve gotten them all out…how exactly do you get the water to settle?

I’ve found it useful to remove myself from the situation, to get a little distance. I figure I don’t even have to be willing to stand still – as long as I’m not standing in the puddle, the water will have a chance to calm. I can come back to it later, and some clarity might be waiting for me.

And so I walk away for a bit. I “drive my own experience through the change. Highlight the joy in my life outside of work.”

Re-connect to the bigger things in life.

For me, it was remembering why I do what I do, my purpose. For me, I have three main purposes here on earth, at least so far as I can tell right now:

  1. To love
  2. To inspire others to see things differently so they can grow
  3. To tell coffee’s untold stories

Through this recent change, I had to re-shape my thinking about #3.

You see, this job? This life at Starbucks? While it’s easy to think of it as huge, it’s actually just once small piece of a way bigger coffee puzzle.

In fact, I never actually chose coffee. Coffee chose me.

And my job is simply to honor that calling. In every way that I can.

So this “big” change? This monumental shake-up to my team?

I had to re-frame it.

It doesn’t mean I’m over it, it just means I started to see it differently.

And after a few days away, I walked back to the now-calmed waters, and saw the whole picture more clearly. With some time to process, I remembered that what is important to me, is so much bigger than who my leader is, so much bigger than who my team is in my day-to-day work.

The significance of this change became far less important in the grander scheme of what I was put here to do. 

And once I remembered that, I started to feel better.

It’s not that I want to lose an incredible leader, and the chance to work on a team that’s so tightly gelled it resembles the 5-part harmonies and addictive tunes of the forever-in-my-heart N*Sync.

Of course I want to keep those things, to hang on tight to them. Of course I love those things. I think it’s only natural that we humans do.

But I had to remember that having those things, and losing those things – is not the most important thing. They help create a sense of belonging, yes. They help create an amazing, day-to-day work environment, yes.

But I had to remember that I belong to something bigger.

I belong to coffee and her untold stories.

For better or worse and whether or not I know why, coffee has chosen me to tell them.

And in those clear waters, a picture emerged. And so I painted a reminder of that picture. A reminder of what I’m part of – bigger than any leader, than any team, than any company:

Coffee Has an Untold Story

Coffee Has an Untold Story

I painted it onto the wall behind my home-office desk, so that through this change, or any other ones to come, I always remember.

Coffee has an untold story – and I am here to tell it.

Join me at where I’ve begun the search for coffee’s voice.

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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


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