I was thinking about when I decided to retire from a company I had worked for more than 25 years. I then thought about when I first interviewed with them; how I waited excitedly to see if I would get a job offer, and the exhilaration I felt as I opened the mailbox years ago and found the anticipated offer letter. When I opened it, there it was! The letter offered me a position as a college management trainee starting at $18,000 annually. Boy, that was big money back then, and I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be selected. No one in my family that I knew of had worked for an international company. No one had held a white-collar management job. I had arrived!
Through the years, I was very fortunate. I worked hard and smart, tried to be a good team member, and made it my goal to please my bosses. I rose through the organization to levels I wanted but did not really know how to navigate. Thank God for those who helped me along the way.
There are so many life experiences that shaped how I view the world. The story I just shared was a positive one that I will treasure forever. However, there were other experiences throughout my life that could have derailed my dreams. There were people along the way, who criticized, subtly belittled me, and in some cases, ignored me altogether. There were challenges that could have caused me to lay down and not get up again; circumstances that would make others give up. I did not. It’s not that I did not because I was so strong; I did not give up because of my faith, people who encouraged me, and sheer determination and grit. I remember being embarrassed by a situation early on in my career, I went home on my lunch break, cried my eyes out, finally got the nerve to return to work, and my boss was standing at the back door. He looked at me, said, “you ok?” I said yes. He smiled and I knew he believed in me and the “you ok?” was all I needed to hear. I knew I would.
What does any of this have to do with you? Everything! I meet so many people who just cannot handle difficult situations. They cannot get over criticisms, and they get stuck questioning whether they are good enough or capable of doing the things they dream of. When they can, if they would stop and see the thing they are dealing with is only temporary.
Many of the challenges we face are designed to help us grow. Yes, that’s how I see it now and if anyone had helped me see that sooner, I would have gotten over a lot of hurts early on. This is why I share these experiences with you. I want you to learn how to navigate challenges in a positive way. You can achieve the things you dream of but dreams don’t generally happen on a bed of roses. Long-term marriages do not succeed without both people having to deal with a lot of stuff from each other. Career success does not just happen (at least, not for most), it happens for those who can take the good with the bad and strive in both environments. Financial success doesn’t happen without sacrificing and being willing to stick with your process for the long-term. Think about it, if you invest, you go through downturns in the economy and you go through upturns in the economy.
If you want to have positive things happen in your life, look at every situation you face as temporary. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
The next time you are challenged, remind yourself that we go through seasons. Keep the faith. Tomorrow things will be different.