We begin a project (or relationship) with certain hopes and expectations for how it will end or the effect it will have on us. With the myriad of options available, we only choose to be involved in things if we expect to experience a benefit. Relationships go through the honeymoon phase, team members have the excitement of getting to know each other and begin a new project together, etc.
Reality never exactly matches expectations. When this comes to bear, we enter the storming phase or the pit. The honeymoon is over, conflict begins to take place, and the challenges are underway. Although we try to avoid this phase, it is inevitable and even proves useful/necessary for developing intimacy and achieving vision. Our most meaningful learning happens here, intimacy is developed most pointedly. The pit is not just to be endured, but valued – we are refined by fire. When in the pit there are two options: quit or persevere.
We quit either because we are not committed to our THERE (it isn’t worth the challenges) or because we have an inaccurate perspective that struggle means we have already failed. If we quit, we start another project and enter into the forming phase again. Quitting is not always the wrong choice – it invites us to reorient effort toward a better objective. In “The Pit”, despair or opportunity is a matter of choice. Quitting might be viewed as an opportunity to reset and start a better objective. Or it might be viewed as failure, together with a decision that we are worthless and should not try anything else.
If we persevere, we enter the norming stage. We have learned, are resolving conflict, building trust, and growing in the ways only overcoming challenges can do. Roles in a team/relationship dynamic become more clearly defined.
We start to see meaningful successes that are, ironically, even higher than our imagined future in the forming stage. We have learned and adapted throughout the curve to refine our vision and goals to meet reality and serve purpose. You don’t stay in this stage forever; the Mood Curve is defined by momentum and will recycle itself (performing leads to a new level of expectations/forming which restarts the curve).
LIE: Everyone will be in the same zone at the same time in a team/relationship dynamic.
TRUTH: Our curves will all look different, even when we are walking down the same path together. Unity is not conformity – our individual values, beliefs and perspectives will highly influence our Mood Curve experience.
LIE: Quitting is never a good thing.
TRUTH: While we need to learn commitment and how to persevere through difficult things, quitting is not always a bad thing. We need to make sure we are on the right path, and that the THERE we are pursuing aligns with our values.
LIE: Choosing to stay in the pit will keep you from quitting.
TRUTH: Choosing to stay in the pit is the same as quitting. There is no place on the Mood Curve where you can set up camp, you will constantly be moving through the curve, and a refusal to do so is the equivalent of quitting. Your new project may be apathy or a “refusal” to do anything, but even that endeavor will follow The Mood Curve.
LIE: Performing is the final destination and the place worth living for.
TRUTH: Life is full of ups and downs. As we learn, grow, and succeed, our potential for output gets higher and our pit is less deep. But The Mood Curve continues and recycles, always in motion.