I’ve had several conversations recently regarding the disappointment and pain that comes with lots of effort and little gain. I’m not a doctor, psychologist, or mental health professional and I don’t play one on TV or the internet; however, I do think there are some things you can do to reverse the tide when you feel like it’s rushing you out to sea and you have no control. You have to recommit to the battle against discouragement.
There’s no worse feeling than seeing yourself slip into one of those moments. The length of those moments varies depending on the person and the circumstance. It might be a fleeting thought easily battled in your mind (something like “man, this day is going to suck” or it could be a bout with depression that lasts days or weeks. Oftentimes, you need to talk with a psychologist. Many companies offer you this assistance with their employee assistance programs. It’s possible that your health insurance company will cover a limited number of visits. So if you battle with recurring or lengthy bouts of depression or anxiety, please check into this.
I want to focus on just a couple of important topics. First, the general issue of discouragement. So often, we are attacked by these feelings that “nothing is ever going to change for me.” It doesn’t matter that this lie can’t stand up under the weight of scrutiny. It doesn’t matter that the factual body of evidence contradicting it outweighs the falsehood ten to one. When you feel this, it can be seriously challenging to overcome.
I’ll tell you one place it’s easy for me to get discouraged: the vitriol that flows in social media. People are so hateful with their comments that it leaves me feeling like there isn’t a lot of hope for our country to come together. I was reminded of the ridiculousness of that notion when I was invited to attend a National Day of Prayer prayer breakfast by Tom Jackson of Steel Encounters here in Salt Lake City on Thu, May 3rd. That will give your cynical, pessimistic heart a real jolt. In a matter of moments, I saw how great leaders, male and female alike, have faced unprecedented difficulty and found their way to their knees recognizing that without some supernatural wisdom, they were bound to falter.
Men and women were gathered from all walks of life. Military, politics, public service, education, private industry, churches, you name it, they were represented. We were gathered with one purpose: to pray for our country, our government, our military, our families, our schools and children, media, businesses and the economy. So this won’t surprise you: the heart of each prayer was a sincere and authentic concern for others.
Today, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. In that place of discouragement, in that place of difficulty, in this period of tremendous challenge, this time when the heaven’s sound like brass, and you have no idea how to handle the difficulties presented to you. You are not alone. I’m not going to mince words here. My personal and deep relationship with Jesus carries me through these periods. I can’t explain it, the peace that passes understanding.
These wise men and women, who over the centuries have cried out for help when the day was darkest and when the dawn seemed like it would never come, they found answers there and so will you. That’s why this is my most important and first recommendation:
Evaluate Your Vertical Relationship
Maybe your challenge is perseverance. You are having difficulty finishing what you started. Or maybe you feel like you aren’t getting a return on your effort. Sometimes, it’s nothing more than irritation. Like a nagging feeling that things should be better than this. Sometimes, it’s more than that – your effort goes unnoticed, unrecognized or unrewarded. The difference being when it’s unnoticed, no one saw the effort. When it’s unrecognized, they saw it and didn’t acknowledge it and if it was unrewarded, it didn’t lead to any benefit to you.
Or maybe you are putting in the effort and it never quite measures up to the expectations that you or others have of you. This can cause frustration to build. More importantly, it can cause your view of your circumstances to take a decided turn for the worse.
If you aren’t careful, you can get distracted from your purpose. It’s difficult to describe the emotion that results. Maybe it’s an old habit you want to break and you strung together a performance to be proud of and then the unthinkable happened and you regressed. Will you let me share something with you? It’s not the end. You get to choose again today to start over.
I know – you want to give up. You’ve succumbed and now you just want to give in. Hear this: DON’T. The easy thing to do is give up on the goal. To assume you don’t have it in you to take another step. But sister, you put one foot in front of the other and get going again. Then brother, you pick yourself up and recommit. Not to where you’re going to be one year from now. You recommit to today. Today, I’m going to take this action. I will lift my head and start again. I’m not going to think about tomorrow or next week. Today, I commit to start again. This lead to recommendation number two:
Establish One Action You Will Take Today
Richard Pimentel has a fantastic, four-minute video on Goalcast. He said several things that were really powerful in those few minutes. First, he said that the way he learned leadership was by being a good follower. Now that is powerful. You learn to lead by learning to follow. Secondly, he said that through this process, he learned responsibility. I won’t spoil it for you because I want you to hear it for yourself.
But here’s the key: that word, responsibility, is made up of two words: response and ability. And then he asks this powerful question. Given my ability, what should my response be? You have ability. So how should you respond when you feel like giving up or throwing in the towel? I don’t know what your response should be given your ability. I do know that you are capable of taking one action today to move you back toward what you want for your life. Don’t pretend that someone or something else can keep you from experiencing that. Take responsibility and act! Finally, you must:
Change How You Think
Richard then shared how leaders don’t need people to believe in them. Leaders find ways to get people to believe in themselves. So that’s my job today. To get you to believe in yourself. In order to do that, we have to change the way you think about yourself. There are a lot of ways that you can do this. Here are a few ideas:
- Be selective about what you put in your head
- Consider who you hang out with
- Be intentional about creating your thoughts about yourself
Finally, know this: I BELIEVE IN YOU. When those challenges arise, I want you to remember that you have inherent value. You are worth a fight. Give it your all, don’t give up, you will be glad that you gave it another go. As Val Brown said in our conversation in Episode 58, “when one door closes, another one opens…but it’s hell in the hallway.”
So, in closing, evaluate your vertical relationship, establish the one action you are going to take today, and change how you think.
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