I’ve come to grips with who I am.

I hired a staff and created an environment where we openly talk about both our strengths and growth areas. My staff has humorously named my growth area. I’m an avoidasaurus. When difficult conversations are needed (involving conflict), I avoid the conversation as long as humanly possible. I am an avoidasaurus.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of conflict. I’m actually very good at it. I can have amazingly difficult and challenging conversations with people and still walk out with the relationship in tact. But I don’t like conflict. It’s exhausting. If I know I have to have a conversation like this later in the day, I’m far less productive all day because I’m thinking about how the conversation is going to go, what they might say and how I’m going to respond. It’s EXHAUSTING.

However, I’ve been learning something recently.  Maybe I’m just being more observant. Maybe God is trying to teach me something. For whatever reason, I’ve been in a season where I’m having a lot of hard conversations with a lot of different people. Before I went on my sabbatical this summer, I joked with my staff that I had a list of people who currently hate Kenny Conley that I needed to meet with before I took off for two months.

What I’ve been learning is that from pretty much every difficult conversation is something amazingly rewarding/positive. I’ve gone deeper in relationships with people after having painful conversations. I’ve earned trust with individuals because I said some things that no one else was saying to them. The culture and environment has shifted in certain situations because of the difficult conversation. In almost every situation, my only regret is that I didn’t have the conversation sooner.

Here’s to an old dog learning new tricks. I don’t think that I will ever like confrontation. Some people live for it (I don’t get it). However, I know that this avoidasaurus must continue to become more comfortable with the difficult conversations. I know that there is always something better on the other side and the more frequently I engage, the more rewarding and positive environments/experiences will be. What I want most lives right on the other side of what I dread most. Funny how that works, right?

I now have people who ask me a very important questions on a regular basis – what conversation are you currently avoiding. If I was truly honest, I could have an answer to that question every time it was asked of me – but I am getting better. What about you? What conversation are you currently avoiding?