“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
~ Lao Tsu
Let’s Be Frank: Running on Empty
Frank is a regional manager in a fast-growing technology company. Many major corporations in his area are clients and he’s a trusted consultant to their senior executives. As the top producer in his firm, he’s considered a key contributor to the company’s incredible success.
Frank’s a legendary “bottom line” guy. He not only “makes his numbers” but is also an impressive strategist and problem solver. The crisp analysis and marketing smarts he displays during budget presentations and operational reviews are the envy of other managers.
With a career path leading to vice-president and an above-average shot at eventually becoming CEO, Frank has a six-figure salary plus large performance bonuses, profit sharing, and stock options. He wears his success like the expensive designer suits that fill his walk-in closet. He drives luxury cars, lives in a beautiful home, and takes his family on exotic vacations. He has it all.
Yet recently, Frank has begun fantasizing about suicide.
“I’ve got to relieve the unbearable pressure,” he keeps thinking. He is desperate to kill the gnawing emptiness that now comes with each new success. No matter how much he achieves, it’s never enough. There’s so much more to reach for and there’s never enough time to do it all. The tension headaches are becoming more intense. Each day, the treadmill seems to be going a little bit faster. People are no longer human. Customers have become revenue streams – their importance measured in terms of their sales potential. Company employees are just another set of resources to be driven to maximum production.
At a recent meeting to address the company’s growing levels of internal dissatisfaction, the new president dismissed employee complaints as the product of “a wailing pack of whiners who will never be happy.”
“We can’t let their bitching and moaning distract us from our business results,” the president declared. Frank nodded. The emptiness in his gut growled like hunger pangs.
Would this be his last meeting?*
What about you? Where do you see your life heading? And does this honest answer nurture joy and anticipation within your soul, or, like Frank, does it echo with emptiness and alienation?
I don’t stand before you today as the guy with all the answers. No, I certainly don’t. And truth be told, the older I get the less I feel I know and the more questions I have.
However, this I do know. We can’t ignore or run from the dark emotions of anger, alienation, and emptiness any longer.
Maybe like Frank, day after day you feel the emptiness growling in your gut like severe hunger pangs. Maybe you hide your pain – the scare-the shit-out-of-me emptiness – underneath your designer suites and behind the wheel of your luxury cars. Perhaps.
So right now I want to say, “Stop running!” Stop running and fighting these feelings. It time to stop suppressing and start honoring. Honoring the feelings and honoring you!
Three things to remember:
- You are not your feelings, thoughts, or circumstances. You’re simply not!
- You’re experiencing these feelings of emptiness, dread and alienation because your true essence yearns for life. You deeply desire to be engaged in meaningful doing that is rooted in purposeful being.
- Ironically, it’s your shadow that can lead you to the Promise Land your spirit longs for. It’s time to start listening.
Today’s Unitas Project:
- I invite you today to listen to Dave Matthews song, Grey Street and ask yourself, “How do I identify with the woman in this song?” “How do I identify with her pain, her struggle?” It’s time to put words to your feelings.
- Write down your feelings and observations in a journal. This can be a very cathartic experience. Remember: this song is a testimony that you’re not alone; there are countless men and women who today are experiencing the pain of emptiness, alienation and despair.
- Talk with someone you trust. Let a friend, family member or a professional into your life. And always remember: you’re okay as you are.
Until next time…
Be You. Be Unitas.
*Let’s Be Frank comes from Jim Clemmer’s book, Growing the Distance
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