Not long ago, I was talking to an individual about a major opportunity that one of the partners in their marriage had received. It was precisely the sort of disruptive event that I encourage everyone to embrace as a way to advance personal and career growth. Congratulations, right?
Well, yes. And, not necessarily. The opportunity was going to require major relocation. One of the great challenges posed by personal disruption for anyone who is coupled with another, or who has children, is that disruption is not just personal. It’s a family affair. That was true in this case.
How do we handle a situation that will upset the existing apple cart, not just for ourselves, but for our significant other? Assuming that we want that other to continue to be significant in our life…. When we disrupt ourselves, people around us will be disrupted too.
This is a hard problem, but what a former boss of mine called “a classy problem.” New opportunities facilitate reevaluating where we are and where we want to go in life. That’s something we all need to do periodically. We would never want to be in a situation where no new chance ever presented itself. We’re not obligated to accept everything that comes along, but it’s good and healthy to have possibilities to choose from and take the time to think and talk about them.
But it’s not easy. If anyone has a magic formula for handling these conversations, I’d love to hear from you, as would all our readers. My guess is that there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution, but I recommend Couples That Work, by Jennifer Petriglieri, as a good help for anyone faced with this classy problem (as well as others). There are changing navigation points throughout a committed relationship, and learning to manage them constructively is important to both individual wellbeing and the health of the partnership. You can get the starter course from our podcast conversation with Jennifer a few years ago.
How do we ease the pain of our people who will be disrupted with us? If we are the significant other, what can make us willing to entertain a change that might interrupt our career, living arrangements, other relationships, and so on?
I think of an opportunity my husband had years ago. It would have been very advantageous to his career. But it also would have involved moving to a place I didn’t want to go. There was nothing there for me. Knowing that I wasn’t open to it, he didn’t even really approach the subject with me. He just passed on the chance.
In retrospect, I wish that I had at least been willing to consider it. We may have made the same decision in the end. Maybe not. I’ll never know. We didn’t have the skills, experience, or maturity to have a fruitful conversation about what the disruption would mean long-term for him or me.
Most of us have experienced a lot of disruption in the last few years, and many people have changed jobs and/or moved to new locations. Maybe you have too.
How did you make the change safe and positive for your partner/family?
What worked? What didn’t? What would you do differently in the future?
Our podcast this week is an encore of our episode with Ozan Varol, respected law professor and—drumroll please—rocket scientist. He’s also a bestselling author, most recently of the soon-to-be-released Awaken Your Genius: Escape Conformity, Ignite Creativity, and Become Extraordinary.
Ozan is the perfect guide for charting new courses in life, dreaming big, and aiming high. I hope you’ll tune in.
Thank you for being here!
P.S. If you are a coach or leader looking for an opportunity to help others grow, check out the Disruption Advisors’ Smart Growth Certification program. Learn more and register here.