icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-user Skip to content
Senior Correspondent

Whether we are professional baseball players or professional business leaders, managers, educators, or health care providers, we all experience breakdowns. Breakdowns hurt our pride, disappoint us, cause us to question our direction, purpose, and sometimes our very existence. No matter how hard we try, things just do not turn out the way we had planned, dreamed, hoped, and schemed. It just comes apart literally or figuratively, and we may feel broken as well. We can experience a broken spirit or broken heart. When we have cash flow challenges, we often say we are broke. It's not fun and it's easy to lose our way.

I found myself chatting about breakdowns recently over tea with a dear friend and Rotary colleague. We were catching up and sharing our respective wins and accomplishments. But, we also acknowledged that preceding some of our more significant accomplishments were some good sized challenges, leading to a couple of minor breakdowns. Breakdowns can come in all sizes, shapes and forms. They often seem to come out of nowhere, and catch us by surprise.

As we processed both the professional and personal happenings of our lives, we were able to connect specific breakdowns that we had each experienced to breakthroughs. Breakthroughs are the opposite of breakdowns. We experience clarity where there was confusion. Challenges and issues seem to resolve themselves. We know what actions need to be taken, and we take them with ease. We feel inspired and full of energy.  Good things come to us effortlessly, and we realize that we have grown somehow, as a result of all of this. And, magically from the vantage point that 20-20 hindsight provides we are able to see that the breakdown, as painful as it may have been, was indeed the first step of the breakthrough.

Take as an example, the 2011 World Series Winners, The St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals were definitely in breakdown in late August at 10.5 games out of first place. Even the most dedicated fans could not see a happy ending for this season. And yet, the Redbirds somehow worked through it all as a team and ultimately prevailed to win their 11th World Series Championship. We can learn some amazing lessons from the St. Louis Cardinals about transforming breakdowns into breakthroughs.

We can be experiencing an individual breakdown, a team breakdown, an organizational breakdown, or even a systems breakdown. We may not see a lot of options during a time like this, but we do have an option as to how to view what's taking place. We can let the breakdown take on a life of its' own, and be completely at the effect of it. Or, we can choose to view the breakdown as a first step toward a much improved situation for all concerned triggered by the actions we take to address the breakdown. That choice alone may very well accelerate the big break we are looking for.

"I Can See Clearly Now Lyrics" – Johnny Nash 1972
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Your Coaching Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept It:
What personal breakdowns, small or large, are you currently experiencing? Once you identify them, announce them publically for all who are involved in the outcome you are trying to produce. Then engage those involved in an exercise to resolve the breakdown. When several resolution alternatives have been generated, relook at the breakdown and see if it hasn't become more of a blessing than a curse from your new perspective?

Stay Up to Date

Sign up for articles by Jeanne Gladden and other Senior Correspondents.

Latest Stories

Choosing Senior Living
Love Old Journalists

Our Mission

To amplify the voices of older adults for the good of society

Learn More