Healthy Conflict Gives You Wings

How Conflict Makes Us (& Others) Better.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Excerpt from User Defenders: Podcast episode 077 with Joshua Mauldin.

Years ago, I remember visiting the beautiful park in sunny Southern California that my wife and I were married at nearly 22 years ago…

This time, we were there with the first few of our young children, reminiscing.

One of our kids noticed a butterfly cocoon and excitedly dragged me over to see it.

Lo and behold, there was a butterfly struggling intensely to break out of it.

Our immediate reaction was to try and help this poor little creature gain its freedom, seeing that it was so close, yet so far from it.

After receiving our aid, something unexpected happened.

The butterfly fell to the ground only able to hop around–not stretch its wings and fly like we expected it would once we had helped free it from its struggles and major conflict contained inside of that cocoon.

His name was Malmquist…I know.

We said a quick prayer for Malmquist and walked away hoping that he would eventually fly to his freedom, and not be eaten by predators.

I learned a big lesson later I of course wished I had known then.

The conflict of the cocoon and the butterfly’s struggles to break out of it is imperative for it to gain the strength required in its wings to take flight and fulfill its purpose.

Think about that for a second.

The struggle, the conflict was imperative for growth and freedom.

I think many of us may miss this often in our lives. We tend to (of course by nature in the pursuit of homeostasis) flee from conflict–especially the healthy kind that is imperative for our growth, when we ought to instead lean into it and see how we can be made stronger through it, and even (and especially) in the extremely uncomfortable midst of it.

Marriage is hard. But honestly, I believe that in the absence of abuse of course, divorce can be harder.

They say the grass is greener on the other side. No, not true at all.

The grass is greener where you water it.

At the risk of sounding preachy. I hope I’m not. I genuinely care. I’ve witnessed a lot of broken relationships and families since the onset of the pandemic.

And if that’s you my heart goes out to you. I can only imagine how difficult that must be.

Folks are struggling and it’s been hard, absolutely.

This whole experience has shown us that

We’re like teabags. We don’t know what we’re made of until you put us in hot water.

I always say marriages that are only 50/50 leave 50% of the effort on the table. Why not make it a 100/100? Our kids will thank us for it.

This all goes back to empathy and servant leadership and being willing to die to ourselves daily for the betterment of others.

Sound a little like your favorite superhero?

The world, and in particular this nation could use a healthy dose of conflict resolution served with the main course of empathy.

Now, bringing this back to design, I’ll always remember what Luke Wroblewski said to me several years ago, he said:

“I don’t think you’re a team until you go through some 💩 together.”

Conflict can be and should be healthy as long as it’s approached and addressed from a place of genuine care and desire. To make the people around you and the outcome better.

That’s not just product design, that’s for everything.

Metal on the anvil, scorched and pounded, forges the sword.

Sand in the oyster makes the pearl.

Coal makes diamonds.

If you found value in this, would you please share it out to your social channels and give it a round of applause (Pro tip: if you hold the 👏, you can clap up to 50!)

If you want to learn a lot more about how to resolve conflict (especially as someone who hates it), definitely check out the latest User Defenders: Podcast episode 077: Conflict Resolution for People Who Hate Conflict with Josh Mauldin.

Conflict Resolution for People Who Hate Conflict with Josh Mauldin pictured as UX superhero, Captain Psionic for User Defenders Podcast

Next month (7/21)

I am super excited to announce that my next guest is design leader/influencer extraordinaire, Bob Baxley.

This was an incredible interview. Bob was very generous with his time. I’m glad I started doing interviews on Saturdays, because there’s a lot less pressure to really try to crank through the interview on both sides due to work pressures.

This was a great interview, and I can’t wait to bring it to you. It was just so rich and Bob was so generous with his wisdom that he’s gained through nearly three decades if not more of design leadership.

So definitely stay tuned, make sure you’re subscribed to the feed to automatically receive this and future episodes.

Thank you so much for listening, Defender. If you’re a regular listener of the show, I greatly appreciate you sticking with me and continuing to download and listen to each episode. Thanks for being on this ride. You’re why I do this.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t thank you enough and I just want you to know how much I appreciate you listening and sharing what you learned and the episodes out there on your social channels. I greatly appreciate you!

And last but not least I want to say, as always…fight on my friends!

👊 Jason



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Jason Ogle

Jason Ogle

Host of @UserDefenders podcast. Human. Designer. Story-Catcher. Deep-Diver. Husband + Father x 7. Has a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe.