My boys are new to Cub Scouts. They love it. They love the uniform, the new friends, and the sense of belonging to an important, mission-driven organization. Next week, our Pack has an outing planned. It's a hike in a nearby state park known for its incredible views of the valleys in the foothills of North Carolina. In preparation for the hike, the boys are responsible for packing all the required "gear". Here is where it gets interesting...
One of my sons, ever the planner, quickly created his own checklist and dutifully went about the house gathering all the gear for himself, and for his older brother. He'd check it off the list, and assemble it in the closet. The hike is more than ten days away; he just loves to plan. My older son is more spontaneous and checklists... well, they don't come naturally to him. Watching their completely different approaches to life events is humorous, and it also gives me pause to reflect.
So much of life is just about showing up. If we don't make the effort to be there, life carries on without us. Whether we are a planner, or an improviser, we still need to make the effort to show up.
I was recently talking with a client about putting a training program together. We are not in the same part of the country, so coordinating was all done by emails and phone calls. What kept happening was emails would go un-replied to and phone calls un-returned... not necessarily any one person's fault, it was more a result of the number of people involved who were all very busy. After lots of back and forth, I offered that I would "show up" at their office one morning. This involved a lengthy flight and a couple of days away. However, my "showing up" was reason enough to get all the right people together at the right time, to make business happen.
On the flight home, I reflected on what we would have missed if we had continued to haphazardly exchange emails and voicemails for several more weeks. The deal might have fallen through and the important training project, which benefits everyone involved, would have most likely been delayed or suspended.
In the end, it wasn't the preparation, or the spontaneity that was important. Indeed, I needed to do both! What really mattered, was making the effort to be there, to show up. Learning to recognize those moments and seize upon them is a result of paying attention, and often requires putting in that little bit of extra effort. That effort often seems to be the thing that we think that maybe we really don't want or need to do. But it's often that very thing that makes the magic happen.
How often does life pass us by while we wait for what's next? Show up, do it today. Be delighted in the results... and then do it all over again.
"Yet another promising employee has been let go. He just couldn't seem to make it to work on time. Management gave him every opportunity to succeed and he blew it. On top of that, we had an employee leave last week after only having been here six months. It seems she thought there was a greener pasture for her somewhere else.
So here we go again. Same amount of work and two less people to share the load. What is it we're doing wrong?"
Sound familiar? That is what we call adversity. The good news is, we all face adversity. It's not the killer of dreams. It's the beckoning call to wake up from the wishful thinking that believes life should be easy. Adversity begs us to discover our strengths and unleash them in exemplary ways. Adversity is a teacher.
We recently consulted with an agency that delivers affordable housing solutions to those in need. This agency is at the leading edge of adversity. Many of their clients are living in harsh realities where every day is a struggle. The agency must manage the adversity that their clients bring in to their offices every day... and not get too caught up in it themselves. The beauty of it is, they are learning to see such adversity as a great teacher.
The new training tools we have developed at TRP are here to help each of us look at adversity from a different point of view. The key ingredient to discovering that point of view?
Respect the adversity that others face. And yet, know it is their struggle and not ours. Respect their ability to persevere and to be triumphant. Offer resources and help where appropriate, allowing respect to be the guide.
When it comes to the adversity that each of us face, respect it. It's not the adversity itself, it's the opportunity that it is providing us with. There are powerful aspects of ourselves that we have yet to discover. As Michelangelo said, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." Be the sculptor and with chisel in hand, discover that power within.
As president, Daniel leads the team at TRP Enterprises to help inspire and uplift through world-class training programs.