I lost my cool yesterday.  True story.  Those who know me know that isn’t my “go to.”  

Being overtired plus my perception of a lack of urgency on a long-standing business issue sent me over the edge.  I raised my voice.  The whole nine yards.  

To top it off, this happened on a day on which I wrote a blog post on “Conversations Worth Having.”  

The irony wasn’t lost on me…

The past two weeks we’ve been looking at some of the insights I’ve experienced working with my coach Dr. Daniel Friedland, author of Leading Well from Within.  

Imagine a river.  On one bank is artificial harmony.  On the other is destructive conflict.  Danny tells us our goal as leaders is to navigate our boat (our organization) in the middle of the river in a flow channel of “creative abrasion,” a place of learning and growth.

When we veer toward destructive conflict, we get triggered.  It owns us.  We react.  And say things we regret.  

When we find ourselves in these treacherous waters, one way out is to “elevate the frame.”  Search for common ground.  What’s our purpose?  What’s the greater goal?

Artificial harmony is no picnic either.  I’ve shared I lost my wife to cancer almost two years ago.  We had a very happy marriage.  Prior to that, I was married once before.   As a kid growing up, my parents argued all the time.  I did not like that at all.  My first wife and I rarely argued.  It took a painful divorce to show me that artificial harmony is a path to nowhere.

Creative abrasion lies in the middle.  It’s not always neat or organized.  But when done well, there is an emergence – a series of conversations, an unfolding.  

It’s not about being perfect.  Relationship work rarely is. 


Reflection: What is the quality of the discussion within my team?  Are we more likely to default to artificial harmony or destructive conflict?

Action: During a disagreement, choose to “elevate the frame” and seek shared understanding around purpose or values. 

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