• May 2015
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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
What is the calling of work?
Discomfort is a powerful teacher

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
M. Scott Peck

Tommy Hopkins, a motivational speaker and salesman extraordinaire, tells the story of when he was at a career low-point meeting a monthly sales quota. His boss came into his office and said, “Let me take you out for a drive … freshen things up a bit.”

Two miles out from the office, the boss pulled his car over to the shoulder of the road. He said to Hopkins, “Get out. As you walk back to the office, make cold calls on 10 new companies that are on your path.”

Stunned, but up to the challenge, Hopkins did just that! Late that afternoon he returned to the office energized with new business possibilities he could not have imagined.

There is a life-skills principle that can be applied to our professional world when we must manage the discomfort of perceived or real failure. The principle is: Use troublesome, negative feelings to move you to positive, constructive action. Discomfort is a powerful teacher. It comes to us first as emotion. But the purpose of discomfort’s unsettling emotion is that it can be used to elevate thought processes and decision-making to take on positive, productive action. 

Recently, Toyota faced a new challenge with its Lexus recall. The effective handling of this product failure, in contrast to corporate bumbling of its earlier recall, is an example of how leadership teams can collectively use organizational discomfort to retool decision-making processes to effectively manage a product failure that communicates a constructive result to customers.

Handling conflicting emotions for positive outcomes is difficult, individually and in a group. But there is a simple prescription: Take each and every sour-lemon event as an opportunity to turn it into sweet-lemonade moment by transforming negative feelings into ethical actions that create results showing that transparent, ethical values were in play to influence for good.
Mission Integrity Action

Discouragement arrives as a useful teacher this week. When I find myself or an associate facing the conflict of perceived or real failure, I use the lesson of discouragement to reveal that clarity of action can be practiced. I will not use discouragement to bring pain or ill will to others. My ethical clarity guides me to make lemonade out of lemons as I use discouragement to guide me and others to pursue the better way.  

Russell Williams,
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge