My granddaughter recently had a bout with the dreaded “swine flu”. She’s fine, has recovered fully and loves the attention she received during her “recent distress”.
However, a moment at the doctor’s office when she was tested and H1N1 was confirmed reminds me of a truth our culture is loathe to embrace. The doctor announced the test results and added, “Now, you don’t have to get the shot.” She found great comfort in that reality. She believes the illness is more welcome than the inoculation. “From the mouths of babes!”
Our culture’s worship of comfort masks the value of embracing conflict. Young trees are made stronger by the winds which stress the root system and create a healthy support network. Children kept safe from germs in a sterile environment are far more likely to contract disease. People who are willing to deal with the conflict before them are far more successful and emotionally centered than those who escape it at all costs.
Our aversion to discomfort makes us weak. Our avoidance of conflict renders us susceptible to the trauma of unresolved turmoil.
What if like the corporate culture at Johnson & Johnson, “We welcome conflict”? Might we become more resilient, more innovative, more personally and organizationally healthy?
Conflict competence comes from embracing the inevitability of difficult moments, acquiring the skills to negotiate these shoals and anticipating the opportunities seized by going there with confidence.
Who needs the inoculation when the real thing might be better for us?