It’s natural, isn’t it? When something scary looms in front of you, to turn and head in the other direction. But in my discussion with Nikki Groom on the Movement Makers podcast, we talked about why we shouldn’t run away from hard things.

We agreed that if we run away from a lesson, that lesson tends to follow us… again and again until we learn and grow from it. I guess on some level, I’m grateful for this – it’s what keeps me evolving and maturing.

I remember my earlier days at Procter & Gamble, where I discovered early on that I enjoyed creative problem solving, lateral thinking, and quick action. Sometimes, I found myself at odds with those in more disciplined functions like project management… those paid to keep us on a certain track. In fact, I later learned to be grateful for detail-oriented PM’s who tracked every deliverable with relish. But at first, I will admit to you here, I avoided them. (My hair wasn’t quite as triangle-shaped. And no, I never actually assaulted anyone).

But, ducking meetings and avoiding PMs who pestered me to populate activity charts didn’t work very well. Eventually, I learned to engage my more process-oriented colleagues. And you’re likely not surprised to hear that I learned from these colleagues. I rounded out my own PM skills, learned the value of different management styles and models, and realized that PMs were people, too. In fact, some have become lifelong friends. So, don’t run away from hard things.

Yet, on the other hand, sometimes we need to call it.

I used to have a life mantra that concluded with “and I never give up.” But as I got older, I realized that sometimes, it’s OK… maybe even healthy to throw in the towel. As Nikki states so beautifully in our podcast discussion, we need to give ourselves permission to walk away – because sometimes, the upside isn’t worth the downside.

So, how do you know the difference? Between the hard thing you should face head on, and the soul-sucking challenge you should healthily walk away from?

Well, I guess it’s about your effort. Have you tried to face into the hard thing? Have you tried to extract wisdom and walk away better informed from the engagement? If so, good for you! You don’t run away from hard things.

On the other hand, have you faced this beast time and again? Have you walked away beaten and bruised, perhaps in more pain but not endowed with any more learning, as time has passed? If so, maybe you need to call it. If you do, you’re not running from hard things; you’re simply valuing yourself and assessing the situation. You’ve concluded that you’re worth more than this circumstance has to contribute.

Either way, it’s about your worth. Stick it out to learn a lesson, because you’re worth it and your future self will thank you. Or walk away from a soul-sucking situation because you’re worth more and there’s better growth opportunity elsewhere.

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