The Source of Our Trouble

“Did you hear the one about the horse that walked into a bar?” I asked. “The bartender walked up and said – why the long face?”

Dalton looked up and a grin flashed across his face. “You’re talking about me, aren’t you?” he said.

I nodded. “Why the long face?”

Dalton sat up. “I just had a talk with my manager about my team’s performance, or should I say lack of performance. I tried to tell him the reasons why, materials late, a machine that broke down, Fred didn’t show up for work and didn’t even call in.” Dalton stopped. “My manager didn’t want to hear the reasons. He just told me to get out there and fix it.”

“And?” I prodded.

“And, I’m not sure what to do. I am almost in shock that my manager didn’t want to hear my story. My stomach is upside down. I feel guilty, like it’s all my fault. I know I will figure it out, but right now, it doesn’t feel very good.”

“May I share something with you?” I asked. “It’s not going to make your long face go away, but it will give you a place to start.”

Dalton’s eyes widened. He leaned forward.

I continued. “Whenever I am in distress, I realize that all of my discomfort is self-generated. All of my emotions like disappointment, resentment, anger, stress, guilt all comes from inside me. I may want to place that feeling on something outside of me, like my manager, but until I acknowledge that it is me, creating those emotions, I will stay stuck in that emotion.”

“Yeah, but this is different,” Dalton protested.

“I said ALL my distress. If you allow even one exception, you start down a slippery slope of placing all blame on things around you, instead of looking inside. So, why the long face?”

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