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5 Principles for Finding Release

The dark side of leading is the secret pain you can’t release.

7 reasons leaders can’t release painful experiences:

  1. Feel the pain, still.
  2. Fear recurrence.
  3. Don’t feel heard.
  4. Have an ax to grind.
  5. Prefer blame to responsibility.
  6. Struggle to forgive.
  7. Want to remind you how you failed.

Painful experiences often overshadow joys.


Letting go is the harder part of moving forward.

  1. Failures haunt.
  2. Offenses sting. Fear of pain blocks joy.
  3. Unmet expectations weigh down. A disappointing past grows heavier with time.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” Herman Hesse

5 principles for finding release:

  1. Press through painful experiences. Don’t wait for pain to disappear. 
  2. Grow tender, not hard. Deep hurts often keep hurting.
  3. Stay vulnerable, not foolish.
  4. Listen to the darkness. What positive message comes through your painful experience?
  5. Forget forgetting. Forgetting is a pipe-dream. Release is a recurring behavior.

5 ways to come alongside:

  1. Accept, don’t reject or correct, their sadness.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Listen.
  4. Reject the need to make it better.
  5. Turn them toward the future, gently.


The only way to build the future is to do it now.

If you wait for the future, you repeat the past.

5 questions that help others find the future:

  1. What’s important about those painful experiences?
  2. If things were better, what would they be like?
  3. How might this expand your potential? Pain humbles the heart and quiets the spirit.
  4. What forward-facing behaviors might you engage in today?
  5. What would you like from me? Don’t let them brush this question off. Wait for an answer.

How are you a better leader because of painful experiences?

How have you helped others grow through painful experiences?

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