There’s a Crack in Everything. That’s How the Lights Gets in. A Story of Resilience.

Coaching and Development - Coaching Definition - Resilience - CoachMe Vancouver.jpg

Guest blog by Glorie Averbach

“There’s a crack in everything”, sang Leonard Cohen, “that’s how the light gets in.”

There have been many interpretations as to the meaning of Cohen’s profound and beautiful lyric but for me the words speak to the journey of resilience.

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or any other significant form of stress. Resilience means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences.

As Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote in their recent book, Option B, we can think of resilience as a sort of “muscle that contracts during good times and expands during bad times”.

We can all relate to the need to be resilient. We’ve all been faced with life altering moments that knock us back, push us face down in the mud, gasping for breath and searching for meaning. Whether this is the physical loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, financial stress, being bullied, racial bias or intolerance, mental health issues or career challenges, we’ve all had times where the overwhelming feelings of loss and plummeting self worth seem insurmountable to overcome. We cling to hope and desperately want to find our way back.

These times are difficult, painful and test our will. They often force us to re-evaluate everything and to ask “why”. At the same time, they provide an unforeseen benefit, a small silver lining – and that is the opportunity to step back, look deep inside, reflect on personal values and re-evaluate life’s meaning.

In 2016, I sold the last of my 3 businesses in the home automation tech space. I had started, owned and led businesses in this space in both the United States and Canada for almost my entire career. I worked with an incredible group of people who I was unwaveringly dedicated to and like many entrepreneurs put in outrageously long hours and everything I had, to grow the business and support the team.

At the time that the negotiations for the last business sale were taking place - which were challenging and complex in and of themselves - my business partnership was in free fall and along with it, being boxed out of an initiative I had founded and been committed to for almost 6 years, my dearest BFF was re-diagnosed with cancer and I had to put down my 16-year-old Miniature Schnauzer named Cambie, who was affectionately referred to as my shadow.

When the last signature was finally affixed to the sale, I was still required to fulfill a 6-month transition contract with the new ownership – a story in and of itself – and by the time my last day hit on July 31, 2016, I was totally and completely depleted - a shadow of my former self.

Burned out, uncertain, totally limited by an iron clad North American wide non-compete agreement and physically compromised by insomnia and an unhealthy dysfunctional habit of not eating, I woke up on August 1st, looked around and realized that I didn’t know who I was. If I wasn’t who I had always been then who was I now? I also didn’t have a clue what I was going to do next. I had never done anything else.

To pile on, I had been trying to function as normally as I could in a myriad of unhealthy business relationships. Loyalty to the end kind of stuff. This, along with the toll of the sale, destroyed my self worth. I simply had nothing left to give. And for those who know me, giving of myself, being a sounding board, and supporting others is one of my life’s greatest pleasures. But I was totally lost. I felt that I failed my team, my family and myself.

I spent the next many months searching – for identity and purpose, for meaning and value and some new form of belief in that which was greater than myself. I read every book I could find to help me forward – Pema Chodron, Brene Brown, Cheri Huber, Michael Singer, Gabby Bernstein, Jen Sincero, Alex Myles and Donna Hicks. I read countless books on Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism and Hinduism. If it had an “ism” in its title, then I devoured its pages looking for answers.

There were days I couldn’t move from the corner of my couch that afforded me the best view of water and the sea wall and the books became good company. I stopped working out, I had trouble engaging with others and I constantly longed for the “joy of simply being”. I wrote endlessly in my journal and sought and received life coaching help.

I made lists and flowcharts, tried to clarify my goals, refine my sense of purpose, and recommit to anything that I believed would heal and redeem me and help me find that inner source of strength and resilience that I longed for so badly.

 “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Fast forward to today.

Life, work, business, career have been beyond better than at any other time in my life. I work and collaborate only with people and teams with aligned values, (non-compromised) and who treat themselves, their partners, colleagues, friends and all others with dignity and respect. I have re-connected with my strong entrepreneurial, visionary, creative side and returned to recognizing the deep value of my own business acumen. I have spent many beautiful hours mentoring and connecting with others in deeply meaningful and valuable ways. I have, in effect, come back to the real me, the essence of who I am.

I have a thriving coaching business, a second business - an online learning and community platform – that is being launched this month and our company, myCEO.ca has just entered into an agreement with Women in Tech World, a national non-profit, to provide monthly masterminds to women in the tech sector.

I sleep well and wake up refreshed every morning. I exercise, meditate, journal and read. In re-discovering my self worth, I learned the deep importance of self care – there is a reason they tell you to don your own oxygen mask first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you simply can’t be there for others.

How did I get from there to here?

In my journey of resilience, I learned to reconsider everything I believed to be true, important, good and right. This questioning was the key step to finding my path forward. I reinvested in the values that had always mattered to me the most, realized that my self worth wasn’t predicated on someone else’s approval of who I was and created a “manifesto”, a fully fleshed out value proposition of what the next chapter needed to look like.

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Truth is, most of us don’t much like cracks. They scare us. To most of us that crack is a sign of weakness, of vulnerability that makes us feel inadequate and exposed. We judge ourselves, thinking the cracks are for the indecisive among us; people who get lost in all their questions. To me, those cracks – the ones of vulnerability and resilience - have become beacons of profound strength.

We must be willing to withstand the uncertainty and even the chaos that breaking through the beliefs we have of ourselves brings forth, until the openings allow for insights and truths to evolve and move us to reorganize the pieces of our fragmented core, into new, better beings.

Resilience then is about becoming, not overcoming. Cracks lead to self-exploration and that in itself is a profound, if at times, unsettling adventure.

We do not all react the same to traumatic and stressful life events. An approach to building resilience that works for one person may not work for another and people use varying strategies. What’s most important though, is to know that each of us can find the strength to go deeper into our own beings and pull ourselves out, up and forward. We can all find resilience. It’s there waiting for us when we need it, deep inside us all.

Resilience is not a personal quality that a lucky few possess. Instead, each of us can build resilience by examining behaviors, shifting our thoughts and creating positive action steps that can be learned and undertaken by anyone. Resilience is, in fact, a very personal journey.

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

This is a guest blog by Glorie Averbach, Co-Founder of myCEO and myBusinessSkills as well as Community Ambassador Manager for Women In Tech World (WiTWorld).

We are inviting our CoachMe Vancouver community to contribute via guest blogs. Read our “How to guest blog for CoachMe Vancouver” if you’re interested in being featured.