Good Enough is Good Enough

Good Enough is Good Enough

I haven’t written anything on this site in three years. I could say it’s because I have been incredibly busy running a school or that I decided to focus my creative energy on writing a collection of essays and short stories. These things are true and they are also excuses. It turns out that just because something is true does not make it a valid reason for why we haven’t done the things we said we would do. What I’m interested in these days is acknowledging facts and then wrestling with the deepest truths I can offer.

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It Will Hurt...

The band aid may pull out a few hairs when you tear it off. 

There will be sleepless nights when you begin planning your exit strategy from that dead-end job. 

At times you will experience doubt and a sense of loneliness when you decide to end the relationships that bring you more misery and heartache than joy and safety. 

You will cry when you stop begging them to stay and finally watch them walk away. 

The anxiety you will feel when you have no choice but to ask for help will be real. 

You will feel abandoned by a few familiar faces when you finally begin living the life you were created to live and not the life someone told you was good enough. 

It will hurt.

So why do it?

Do it because you deserve it. Do it because after the sting, the sleepless nights, the doubt, the loneliness, the tears, the anxiety, and the abandonment, YOU WILL STILL BE ALIVE. 

How Will You Respond?

We all know that family member, friend or colleague who seems to always be juggling a string of unfortunate events and challenges. Certainly, in many instances, the misfortune is the result of a poor decision. It is also the case that these events are sometimes brought on by factors outside of the individual's control. 

It's not that misfortune only happens to some people and not others. What does vary is how we behave when misfortune appears. Lisa might be late to work once and decide that going forward she is going to leave ten minutes earlier and find a less congested route. Andrew will be late to work fifteen times and blame the alarm clock or the school bus taking its time getting kids on before it tucks away its most powerful weapon, a stop sign. Robert may forget to pay a bill and then decide to set up automatic payments and set more money aside for emergencies each month. On the other hand, Tracy will come up short on multiple bills each month and be constantly stressed about money but she will continue going to Starbucks every morning and eating out four times per week. 

It is not that some people have lives that are divorced from misfortune and mistakes. It is really that when the mistake is made or the obstacle appears, some of us act as owners of our lives and some of us behave like victims. 

The question is not whether challenges will emerge. The question is how will you respond when they do? 

Who Has Your Ear?

Is it the group of people who always complain? Is it the person on your team who has the unique balance of paranoia and optimism? Is your calendar filled with appointments that will require you to listen to those who come to the table to tell you all of the reasons why you are going to fail even though that's not what the data says? 

There is some truth to the old saying that we were given two ears and one mouth so we should use them proportionally, and we should use both wisely. Who we listen to matters to our ability to stay focused on the cause, to end the day feeling like we made progress, to hear all of the evidence we need to make an informed decision. 

You words are valuable your ears are invaluable. When someone wants to borrow your ear and you know the cost of listening is too much, be bold enough to say "not now," "no thank you."  

What Matters Most

If it is a priority then prioritize it. Make it visible and sticky so that you don't have to call it a priority because it clearly lives as one. 

People know what you care about by what you do, not by what you include on the first or last slide of the PowerPoint Presentation. 

Align your behavior, time, and money to what you say matters most. Otherwise, you are mostly kidding yourself and a few spectators who will catch on eventually and be disappointed. 

The Pieces of You

Managing people is an illuminating art. It sheds light on your strengths and weaknesses. It makes your insecurities rise the surface.

You're asked to lead and perhaps you imagine yourself walking calmly through an open field with a team of adventurers loyally following behind you, even if their steps are cautious. In reality, at moments you find yourself trying to wrangle in people who want to stay right where they are while also trying to catch up with a few who are already ahead of you potentially  running in different directions. 

Being a leader in many ways is like putting yourself in a room surrounded by mirrors on all sides. Each way you turn, you bump into some part of yourself. Each person you are responsible for represents some part of you and you're charged with balancing all of them at once.

The one who says, "we've always done it this way," is your fear of change. The one who says, "let's try it this way," is your curiosity about what is possible. The one who lashes out when things aren't fair is your love of justice. 

The task is to listen to all of them because of course their voices have value. It is then through listening within the context of the larger goal that you can determine which voices to cultivate.