Articles Leadership Moments

At the end of my leash!

Back in 2012, I attended a training event by CultureSync called Leadership Unleashed. It was a great event and I learned many things in the various sessions. One of the notions I picked up that still lives in my head even this long after the event was the three key types of events that we seemingly go through in our lives.

Let me tell you a bit about these types of moments and share a story about a recent experience with one of them in my life.

Three key moments

There are moments we can classify as the F**K YEAH! moments, which are the ones where we accomplished something really cool or memorable to us. These moments allow us to bask in our own glory and pride and we usually tell these stories with a lot of passion and joy.

There are other moments we can classify as Crucible moments, which are the ones that helped define our character in some way. These moments can be the death of a loved one, getting laid off from a job or moments where we stepped into our leadership for the first time.

Finally, there are moments we can classify as HELL NO moments, which are the ones where something happened that violated or trampled our values so deeply that it caused a deep visceral reaction for us. These moments got us so upset that we felt compelled to do something about them.

During the event, I took the time to stop and recall stories from my life covering these different categories. The F**K YEAH moments were probably the easiest to recall as I have been fortunate enough to accomplish a lot of fun things in my life and in my career. The crucible moments, such as my father’s death, or working in a company where my achievements, my skills and my experience meant nothing, were more painful than others but I could see how they changed me or influenced my life.

My biggest “Hell No! ” moment of all

I had “Hell No!” moments in my life but none more powerful and visceral than the one I experienced last summer. The rest of this article will be around this moment. In the six months leading up to it, I was working with a group of individuals and I was feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, exasperated, resentful and mistrustful of the people around me.

When the “Hell No!” moment truly sunk in, I decided that I had enough and that I was going to get myself out of that situation by any means necessary. At the time, I remember being surprised at how outraged I felt and it dawned on me that I was experiencing one of these “Hell No!” moments I had heard so much about!

I experienced the power of these moments and I also felt the strength and the courage that came once I embraced and channeled the visceral anger that it created within me. I was at the end of my leash! As Dave Logan of CultureSync said during the training event, I decided to USE MAD instead of just getting mad.

In the following weeks and months, I made a lot of major changes in my professional life. Working with people around me that I trust and value, we were able to create a new opportunity that would allow me to experience something new, exciting and apart from that original group. The problem was that I never had closure with the people that generated the “Hell No” moment I experienced.

The importance of closure

I attended an event recently where many of the people involved in that infamous “Hell No” moment were also in attendance. In the last eighteen months, despite not being around them formally, I remained around them informally, supporting various people whenever I could because it always seems like the right thing to do for the business.

In many situations, I found myself putting aside personal feelings because it allowed me to do what I felt was right. In the background though, the fuel of that “Hell No!” moment still burned and at times, it actually drove me to keep pushing myself forward so that I did not *ever* find myself back in that original situation again.

So there I was at this event and I did not know what to do… I tried putting on the “social graces” mask but I realized the anger was still very much there for me and this time, no matter how hard I tried I could not find the inner strength to unplug how I truly felt. I ended up doing the only thing I felt I could do, which was discretely leaving the event.

“Hell No!” moments are very powerful when you can use the anger to create something new but on my way back home from the event, I realized how much closure is important as well.

How could that event been different all around if there would have been some form of closure for everyone involved?


What does closure feel like when you have been using the anger of the “Hell No” moment to fuel part of what you do? Although this energy allows you to create, what is the karmic impact of creating from such a negative energy source? To be fair, there is a lot of passion, pleasure and fun fueling what I do now as well.

But what does closure mean exactly and who needs to be involved? Do you need to include the people that were involved in the moment or is it simply a matter of making the choice to let go and forgive? If letting go and forgiveness is the answer, how do you do that with a situation that created such a powerful and visceral moment for you?

These are some of the questions I find myself wrestling with right now.

About the author


Steffan Surdek

I am a leadership development coach, corporate trainer, professional speaker and author. I believe in contributing to a greater cause, making a difference and adding value.

Feel free to reach out, I would love to hear about the leadership challenges in your organization!

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