Sharing a Suffering or Challenge

Sharing a Suffering or Challenge

Hey, it’s Jackson, back with another lesson and practice that you can use to really strengthen the connection and the culture within your team. I think for this video, I’ll start with a story. It came from a seminar by a well-known leadership and performance teacher. It was right after, literally, like the day after 9/11, the World Trade Center tragedy. There was a lady at this event who lost her whole company. She’s going through a list, crossing off names of people. They were sharing in the group, “How could this happen? Who would do such a thing?” Another gentleman from the Middle East stood up and he said, quite frankly, “You know what? I think this is retribution. This is fair.” In the whole room, wow. So, you imagine what happened next. You actually might not, so these two actually kind of sat down together and each one of them shared the stories of the suffering they had gone through.


Of course, the lady from the U.S., it was pretty obvious to share what’s going on. But this gentleman from the Middle East explained a little bit about how as a child he grew up being bombed and how they viewed people in the West as kind of the enemy and all the suffering they had gone through. Once they kind of saw into this shared suffering that’s a part of the Human Experience, they both changed their perspective. The gentleman from the Middle East, of course, kind of took back a lot of what he said, but they ended up starting this kind of peace and understanding Coalition together where they worked with certain kind of Western parties and Middle East influencers and thinkers all in an effort to kind of promote a mutual understanding and cooperation and just like I said a shared Humanity.


Now, the reason I tell that story is because it points out a very, very powerful thing within human nature and the Human Experience. There’s a quote that goes something like, “If you could see into the secret history of suffering of every other person, it would be enough to end all wars.” And just like that story illustrates, when you actually really hear what this other person who feels like a stranger, maybe even in some cases feels like an enemy or someone you don’t like, has gone through, it touches some part of us in a certain way where we start to see them a little differently. We start to see them as what we have in common, the suffering that we’ve shared, as opposed to just two kind of separate or opposing forces.


So, in this exercise, what I’m going to, maybe, challenge you to do is to step a little bit outside your comfort zone and see if you can experience this for yourself. What I’ll challenge you to do as well with this is just to use what we call “as if” thinking. So, if you’re hearing this and you’re like, “This is a little bit weird. I don’t know about this,” as you watch this, just try to make a commitment with me to just say, “I’m going to act as if I’m willing to try this, willing to play ball here.” What I want you to do is to split into groups of two. It’s just you and a partner. As you do that, you are going to think of a time in your life where you suffered or had a challenge.


Now, I want to point out, you do not need to make this an incredible, like, traumatic, the worst thing that’s ever happened to me that I can’t even tell my therapist or my best friend, not at all. It’s just a time where I made this mistake and it really sucked, or I had this relationship. A few months ago, I had someone I thought I was going to marry who broke my heart, whatever it is. It doesn’t have to be that big. But I want you to challenge, push yourself a little bit to find something and think about that experience. What about it was significant to you? What about it was challenging? How did you get through it? How did it impact you? Then, I want you to share with the other person as much, again, as many little details you feel comfortable with. As the person listening to this, your job is not to say, “Oh, it should be this,” or “Fix it,” or whatever, but it’s just to listen with your full attention, caring and presence.


So, you’re going to try that for two or three minutes, and then you’re going to switch roles. Okay? It’s two or three minutes, switch roles, two or three minutes, right? One of you shares kind of this challenge or suffering that you had gone through. The other person shares a challenge or suffering they’ve gone through. And at the end, I just want you to reflect on how was that? Maybe you’ll say, “Dude, that was super weird. I don’t want to do that again.” And that’s fine. But if you trust me, “as if” here, what I think you’ll find is that you see one another a little bit differently, and you kind of connect on a little bit of a deeper level than you would have thought before.


It’s a very powerful way to, like I said, build connection and trust which, as I shared about, for any high-performing team, particularly in a tactical or military, or even just a high-stress, really high-performance setting, is absolutely essential to the team dynamic. I hope you’ll experiment with me a little bit on this one, and I promise you that this can have a really, really meaningful impact on your life and your relationship to others. And I’ll leave you with that. I’ll see you next time.