Finding the good in the hard stuff: When your landlord or partner goes rogue, vulnerability, and failure


It happens more often than we’d like to admit: an expansion project with a new partner that looks like a great idea at first, only to degrade over time.

The warning signs start to pile up—some subtle, some glaring—and you start to realize that your core values and those of the people you’re working with just won’t ever align.

What do you do?

It’s easy to put a ton of energy into “making it work”—the sunk cost fallacy can cost you years and years of your life.

While there’s something to be said for working through challenging situations, it also helps to recognize when you’re on the wrong track.

In these situations, reflection and communication are key—if you suspect you might be in such a situation, the first thing you need to do is to take a step back and ask yourself if this is what’s going on. Then, you need to communicate—in a respectful, positive manner—what your needs are with the relevant parties, so you and they can figure out how best to proceed.

Even when it seems like an impossible dilemma, there’s almost always a hidden path that permits everyone to walk away happy. Healthy communication practice is they key.

How to show strength in vulnerability

Following that thread, another longtime space owner is facing a major shift in her business—towards a significant shift in the business model, that will require all sorts of new competencies.

She already did some of the most important work, by recruiting members of her community to support her in addressing critical components of the move. However, there’s much more work ahead!

In her case, continuing to engage the community in the process of transition will yield fruit—even if that means exposing the cracks.

Not knowing how to solve a particular challenge is something that might be hard to share with your community, but if you do so from a place of unwavering commitment to seeing the project through, it will actually give people more confidence in you.

Learning how to walk that line is a nuanced thing, but it’s a worthwhile skill to develop.

What can you be practicing being vulnerable about?

Accepting failure

It’s easy to want to bury a failed effort, or to avoid it happening altogether—back to that dangerous sunk cost fallacy!—but some of the most successful people I know fail frequently.

The difference is, the successful people fail smoothly and confidently. They don’t let the specific individual failure they encounter lessen their overall mission—they recognize the value in learning from all experiences and demonstrate what they’ve learned in the way they handle what they do next.

Further reading:

I recorded a little video recapping the above. Give it a spin on YouTube!


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