Those Days.

We all have them; one of those days. You think everything is fine and suddenly….WHAM! You’re blindsided. What you thought you knew is turned upside down and you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. You may be confused, angry, hurt; you may feel lost and alone; who knows what else. At that moment, in an emotional and chaotic time, you have to make a critical decision about what to do next; how to react. There is nothing easy about that and the transition can take time. In fact, the impact of that sudden course correction may never leave you, but the longer it takes to deal with the more damage can be done. This is true for us as individuals or as a company; it can happen in our personal or professional lives; it doesn’t matter which. What matters is the next step.

Dealing with adversity is something we all must do, but if it affects you on an emotional level the challenge is much greater. If we change a policy or implement a new system, we explain why and we move on. It takes a period of adjustment, but the transition isn’t so bad and emotions aren’t much of a concern. If someone leaves unexpectedly, we might not always understand, but the reasons become clear in time and, again, we move on even if there was an emotional component. If, however, trust is betrayed, that has a more profound effect and can be deeply emotional. We may move on, but it never leaves us entirely. When we talk about building relationships with members, when we talk about being a team, we are, in essence, opening ourselves up and trusting each other; we become vulnerable. To some extent we depend on others every day to be successful and get through the day. A team works together in a common purpose and there is a huge level of trust involved that cannot be overlooked or overstated. We trust each other, we trust our equipment, we trust our strategies, we trust our members, etc. and that trust helps us flourish or fight through challenges.

Therefore, when there’s a bump in the road, a misunderstanding, a change in direction, a difference of opinion, it’s important to trust and communicate using a balance of open-mindedness, strategic focus, objectivity and empathy. Honest discourse is lacking in today’s society and sometimes rather than discussing and listening when trust is seemingly broken, our first reaction is to go nuclear, inflict maximum damage, and really get our point across. Social media may give us the opportunity to rant, criticize and judge with anonymity, but as a credit union, as a cooperative, as a team, we can’t do that. Mistakes will happen, disappointment will occur, but these pale in comparison to what we can achieve when we stand together, work together, fight to together. There is strength in numbers; strength of heart, of mind and of purpose. All it takes is less bravado, less pride and the admission to oneself that we need each other; maybe more than we realize. There have been a number of acronyms created around the word “team”, but here’s one I came up with because being a team applies to more than just a business:

Trust – If you trust, you won’t start by assuming the worst. Make your feelings known and talk. That doesn’t mean things will go your way, but that’s not really the point.

Empathy – You have to empathize. Put yourself in the other person’s position. Allow yourself to understand their thoughts and feelings; they’re just as important as yours.

Appreciation – Take a minute to appreciate what other people do, or have done, for you; what they may deal with on a daily basis, and what they have to offer.

Meaningful – Make each interaction meaningful on some level. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Just make people feel like they matter.

The Freedom team is going strong even when we’ve had to make course corrections. It takes understanding and acceptance of change, focus on goals, a conviction in our mission and trust in each other which allows us to implement the necessary strategies and achieve the desired results. We will always have challenges, but if we continue to communicate, develop relationships, plan and adapt, we will continue to serve our members, create better experiences and build a strong team in and with our community.