Part of directed growth is focusing on the desired outcome. When it is clear what you want, the “how to get it” somehow becomes easier to trust and process.
But what about those times when you have identified what you wanted, gone for it, and are suspicious of the outcome? Not all of that hard work, you think, may achieve the goal. Well, maybe not. It is hard to tell until you get to the end. But the lesson of perseverance begs us to recall that professional and personal development are not only about ultimate achievement. In addition, and perhaps even more importantly, they are about the lessons we learn along the way.
A few years ago in private practice, I faced a challenging, complex set of facts through which I had to sift to best advocate on behalf of my client. Examining these facts led me to delve into areas of the law and interpretations of it that I had never explored so deeply. Despite small victories here and there, our contractual relationship ended at a point where we had advanced the arguments as far as we could. The Court had not decided in our favor, and the client would have to decide whether to appeal. We had persevered, and our expectations were not met. While I did not understand at the time how the facts of this case would impact my understanding of this particular area of the law, it became clear to me only three weeks into a new job in a different context. The same facts (although presented in a much different way) showed up in front of me once again, and I comfortably and confidently navigated my way toward answers and solutions that benefited my new client. If I had not persevered through the disappointment of unmet expectations in the first instance, I would not have been prepared to handle the second very similar scenario so well.
To remain in pursuit of your goals, focus on the lessons you are learning along the way. Name the experience you had, and consider the skill it helped you develop.
- Have you become a better leader after dealing with a complicated work situation?
- Have you improved your memorization skills after studying for a lengthy exam?
- Have you developed your communication skills by taking charge of an unclear situation?
- Have you confronted an adversarial situation by turning it into an opportunity?
Lessons mean skills, and skills are transferable to other contexts. Experience is a great teacher. Whether you are trying to transition out of school and into the job market, change your career path, or take on a different role in a job you already have, consider the skills you have developed. While your journey thus far may not have been what you expected, consider the skills you have developed to stay the course, know your worth, and remain confident for the next opportunity that may be more aligned with the direction you want to follow.
Our continued growth depends on our ability to persevere through disappointments or unmet expectations. To keep thinking positively, we have to focus on the small yet substantive achievements in our lives even if they do not look like the ones we had anticipated. Surely, we have learned something along our less-than-perfect paths. Use those hard lessons to your advantage to keep going to prepare yourself for the next task, job, or adventure in your immediate or more distant future. Perhaps the skills you have cultivated along the way are just the ones you may need to use in the next position in which you expectedly – or unexpectedly – find yourself.
© 2016 Melanie Glover. All rights reserved.