The Best-Laid Plans
Last Friday, I came into the office with no one here. (I tell the team to take a “holiday, holiday” where no one works between Christmas and New Years—it’s amazingly refreshing for all of us.) And coming in gave me a chance to plan out my calendar perfectly.
You should see it. Every minute of my day is planned. When I’ll take calls with clients, when I’ll do emails, and when I’ll follow up on meetings are all laid out. It’s so good, I might go as far as calling it “perfect.” I’m feeling great and have a ton of hope for how this year is going to play out.
As you’re also coming back to work and moving into 2018, I’m sure you’ve done something similar. You’ve probably taken a serious look at how you want this next year to pan out. And right now, the year looks great. You have plans for going to the gym, what rhythms you want to have with your families, who you want to spend time with, and what you want to learn over the next 365 days.
Similarly, there’s someone on my team who is an amazing planner. This person is on top of his activities and priorities, stays focused, and keeps boundaries. He’s already got his rhythms set up for talking with clients, traveling, etc.
But we started our first day back in the office after the holidays this week by hearing that there’s been a death in his family and that they’re all struggling with the loss.
Albeit temporary (i.e. he has to go to a funeral service, help his family deal with the passing, etc.), everything he planned for this week is going out the door.
So while there are a ton of great articles about how to plan and set goals for this year, there doesn’t seem to be a lot about preparing ourselves for what will inevitably happen: Things not going our way.
And there’s a lot of that—struggle—going on in the world these days.
Resiliency in Struggle
A few months back, I was at a board meeting for my undergraduate alma mater’s entrepreneurship center. The man who catalyzed the idea for this center is a gentleman named Charlie Horn. Charlie’s done well in his life for numerous reasons. So when he and I sat down to dinner together, I started asking him about this next generation of students and what they need in order to succeed. His answer: Resiliency.
Since Charlie brought up that very specific piece of wisdom, I’ve been obsessed with it. I see a generation of people around me who are focused on changing the world, but who are having a hard time remaining resilient through it all (it feels too hard or it’s too overwhelming—because there’s plenty to be overwhelmed by). But I want to encourage us all to stick with it this year, most especially when it feels hard. Here’s why…
Most people reading this have heard of Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability. A few years back, she addressed resiliency in an interview and something about it really stuck out to me:
“I think we lose sight of the beauty [in the struggle]. The most beautiful things I look back on in my life are coming out from underneath things I didn’t know I could get out from underneath. The moments I look back in my life and think, ‘God, those are the moments that made me,’ were moments of struggle.”
As I think about my work going into 2018, so much of what I do will be that—a struggle. A lot won’t go according to plan. A lot of things will feel like a battle. A client will leave. A teammate will find a new company to work for. We’ll have times during the year where we are low on cash. And along the way, giving up will sound like a much easier option.
But as one of my favorite authors, Krista Tippett, puts it, “[Resiliency] acknowledges from the outset that things will go wrong.” In her book, Becoming Wise, she goes on to say that “[resilience] is a shift from wish-based optimism to reality-based hope. It is akin to meaningful, sustained happiness—not dependent on a state of perfection or permanent satisfaction, not an emotional response to circumstances of the moment, but a way of being that can meet the range of emotions and experiences, light and dark, that add up to a life.”
So as we move into 2018, my hope for all of you is that you acknowledge that it feels hard, but that your feelings are more grounded in the reality that—in order for change in the world to take place—we will struggle. It will be hard. But don’t stop there. Trust that you have to keep going and being resilient because it is in the struggle where we actually change the world (and ourselves) along the way.
Here’s to struggling in 2018. Our lives, our work, and our relationships will be richer for it.