The Explosion: Extending and Receiving Forgiveness.


Culture Fuel From the Trail series

This series of posts is inspired by our recent 6-day section hike of the Appalachian Trail, which you can read more about here. Each of these posts offers an insight from our experience on the trail that applies to life and leadership. Enjoy!

“The fact remains that teams, because they are made up of imperfect human beings, are inherently dysfunctional.”
— Patrick Lencioni

Blood Mountain: the highest peak on the Georgia AT. From 3125 feet to 4461 feet over 2 miles of hiking. Translation: very, very steep! In the last post I described how Kellie and I came to realize that we naturally hike at different paces...but I didn't tell you the ugly source of that revelation.

We were probably an hour into this particular climb. Kellie was in the lead, and my pack was 10 pounds heavier than hers. She seemed like the Energizer Bunny as she powered up the mountain, but with every step I struggled more to keep up with her. This wasn't playing well with my foolish manly pride! Sweating profusely and struggling to breathe, I finally stopped and yelled at her. "I hope you're hurting as much as I am," I blasted. I was frustrated with myself, but my anger spilled over at her.

The force of my tone more than the words themselves crushed the joy of her moment and opened a wide distance between our hearts. It didn't take long for me to feel ashamed of my outburst, but it did take a while to mend the gap. New stresses seem to have a way of uncovering ugly places in our souls that might have otherwise stayed hidden.

Brene Brown describes three common responses to this kind of stress: Moving away (withdrawing), Moving toward (pleasing), and Moving against (attacking). While very human--and we've done them all--each of these ultimately fails. Only forgiveness heals and restores.

Forgiveness is an immensely powerful force for healing, in both life and leadership. And the sequence is simple:

  • Be quick to request forgiveness. Recognize an injury asap, express regret, and verbally ask for forgiveness. Don't assume it; ask.
  • Be quick to extend forgiveness. As an injured party, it can be hard to release the debt owed...but the release brings life for all.
  • Be quick to receive it. It can be equally hard to receive grace offered; true humility avoids beating yourself up and accepts the restoration of relationship.

Next time you blow it or blow up, whether at work or at home, be the first to request, extend, or receive this great gift.

Posted on May 23, 2014 .