Forgiveness is an art, not a science

Oprah says it best, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.” When someone wrongs you, especially to your core, it is so hard to “forgive and forget.” If you’ve figured out how to do this, you should be writing your own book (seriously).

To master healthy relationships, we need to practice the skill of forgiveness.

And when we forgive, we don’t forget. We might even have a scar on our heart forever. But we need to be able to move forward, knowing what we know. Even being afraid it will happen again.

I once had an employee who resigned. She told me she was going to be a full-time mom. A few months later, I noticed she had her own work website listed on LinkedIn. I followed the link, and as I read it, my shock grew to horror. A former employee took almost all of my intellectual property and used it in the content of her site. Even her claims about how expert she was were laughable. I was indignant, “I taught her everything she knows! And she lied to me. How dare she?”

When I asked her about it in a pretty vanilla email, she claimed it was just for a few projects she was doing. But it didn’t look that way. It looked like she had taken everything I had taught her and hung up a shingle.

By the way, if she had been honest with me, I would have been more than okay with it. You want to grow your talented employees so they feel confident to move on to the next thing. People can’t be with you forever. Little birds have to fly from the nest. Hopefully, as parents we stick around forever, but we still want to see our children become independent, make their own decisions and live their own lives. When we are managers, our jobs is to usher the people we care about on to the next phase of their journey.

But lying just isn’t cool.

Because I was so hurt, I had to decide if I could trust my next employee in that position. It could have been the same thing all over again—she could work for me for a couple of years, and then leave with all of of my company’s intellectual property.

And there was absolutely nothing I could to stop her—or anyone else for that matter.

My mom says, “The greatest obstacle to wealth is inflexibility.” But I think one of the greatest obstacles is also trust. I needed to trust my next employee. So, I had to forgive the old one.

It’s taken me quite a few years not to reference it or talk about it. It used to feel like such a betrayal. Now it just feels like a chapter. In the end, how was my anger toward her serving me? Or my company?

If you can move forward from the things that feel like daggers in your heart, you will be a healthier person, capable of forging intimacy with the people that you care about, and the people that care about you. And you’ll bring that healthy intimacy to work, so that you can trust your employees to get things done.

Children will do and say things that will be so hard to integrate into your own reality of your family dynamics. Unfortunately, some parents see their children as products they’ve created. But, children go out into the world and are their own people. They’re going to wrong you. They’re going to disappoint you. They’re going to see things differently from the way you do. And you will need to forgive them too. You will need to give up the idea that the past could have been any different with them as well.

Forgiveness is a practice, and it won’t happen overnight. So be patient with yourself as you work through learning to forgive.

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