lessons from ex-bosses & ex-boyfriends

Do you know how much these two have in common? Probably a lot more than you realize. Bosses and boyfriends (or significant others, if we are being gender neutral here. I’m going to use boyfriend for the sake of ease, okay?) are people you depend on for something.  Bosses may be depended on for job guidance and a paycheck while boyfriends for partnership and love.

To bosses and boyfriends, you are expendable. UNLIKE family and friends which tend to offer unconditional love and forgiveness, to bosses and boyfriends the relationship isn’t indestructible. There could always be someone better suited for the “job” thus these two relationships are some of the biggest threats to our security and comfort.

Sometimes relationships with bosses and boyfriends end on an amicable note. We leave to a mutual understanding that we are on to bigger and better things for us – but sometimes they can end with a lot of unanswered questions, resentment, shock and become that crazy story you never stop complaining about.

And as you mature and progress onward with your career or with other relationships, you come to realize and appreciate the significance that even the worst ex-bosses and ex-boyfriends have had in your life. How everything that happened with either an ex-boss or ex-boyfriend was preparing you for a better future. How each ex-boss or ex-boyfriend shaped you into the person you were destined to be.

Often, it takes other experiences to truly learn and be grateful for something you once had.

We learn this all in hindsight, because hindsight vision is 20/20. But what if the lesson behind what we learned when we looked back, is that we need to apply the same faith and understanding going forward? What if we didn’t wait until something was over to search for the significance from a current boss or boyfriend? What if we took that first heartbreak or job loss and used it to help us get through the tough times we are experiencing in the now? Won’t this type of mindset shift everything?

Well, I think so. Or I wouldn’t be writing this post.

We are always inevitably going to conflict with people – especially those as close as our bosses and boyfriends. What dictates the extent to which conflict continues and has lasting impact, is our immediate reaction to it. The way we react to conflict and pressure can help minimalize our losses.

 I’ve compiled some beneficial shifts that can occur when you don’t wait for hindsight to find something to appreciate or be grateful for in our most important work and interpersonal relationships. They are lessons that are learned more from an ex-boss or an ex-boyfriend, but can be used to benefit any significant relationship, especially those in which forgiveness is not socially required.

The conflict only sticks around if you feed it. If you engage the conflict immediately or engage the conflict over a long period of time – it doesn’t end the conflict. Don’t stress or engage in conflicts that have nothing to do with the bigger picture. I used to butt heads with a boss of mine when I felt neglected without resources to do my job because he was distracted by something shiny and new. But the distraction gave me an opportunity to make crucial decisions that he promised to stick by. The ability for me to take action, responsibility and make decisions was way more valuable to me as a professional. If conflict arises take a minute to see how the experience can be beneficial before assuming that the conflict is an unsolvable problem. Clearly continuing to conflict with my boss about lack of attention would have prevented me from the bigger and better lessons I learned about being manager.

Making an effort becomes easier. In opposition to stress and uncertainty, gratitude can go a long way in making it easier to carry out day to day activities at near 100% effort. What’s more likely to affect the way you work – being concerned about personal job security created by conflict? Or understanding the significance that the current opportunity will have on your future? You get 100% out when you put 100% in, so if you want to take the best experience forward, it’s important to put the best intention and effort in. This only occurs when the mind is shifted to understand that each ex-boss or ex-boyfriend will eventually have a profound significance in your life – even if you don’t know what that is yet.

Letting go is more graceful. So you got laid off, transferred or you broke up? I wish that at the time that news was broken to me in the past, I knew just how many times I would look back at the relationship with appreciation for teaching me the skills I need to be better today. It may not be the easiest thing in the world, but it is BY FAR EASIER to let go gracefully if you have faith that in time, you will look back with gratefulness instead of letting the negativity and hurt fuel you to continue to create conflict…. even if that conflict only exists internally. It leaves you open to move onto what’s next.

It’s downright healthier. A potentially stressful situation can be transformed into something stress-free when you understand there is always going to be some kind of positive significance to what you are going through. So your boss is questioning you… maybe you’re not 100% sure you get along with his leadership style – what CAN you learn? What IS there for you take away from him as a boss? And ultimately, is what he’s giving more important? Human beings, we aren’t perfect. There are going to be things humans suck at and things humans excel with – make it your job to love and appreciate the lessons or the learning in the opportunity.