Yes, day is another one of “those” blogs… one of the blogs in which I am thankful for something that seems outwardly bad, but is actually something worth appreciating. Bear with me and you’ll see what I mean. In conversation with a teammate from one of my offices today we had a great conversation that started off with a shared appreciation for something that I’ll save for the end. For some reason I’m feeling a little Paul Harvey-is today.
They were discouraged as something wasn’t progressing as planned. They’d been putting the work in, checking the boxes, and for some reason the results went the wrong direction. It was incredibly frustrating and I could totally sympathize with them. There’s something particularly gut wrenching to knowing that you’ve been giving your all and things go a little sideways. All of that hard work feels squandered and
you (I just realized this should really be personalized and not ‘other-ized’) I feel like might as well just hang it up and quit. Depending on the task or goal sometimes I do. In other cases I double down, grit it out, keep a growth mindset, and create a way to get it back on track. In our conversation the discouragement was starting to reaching a peak and we had to figure out how to proceed.
Discouragement is actually a quite beautiful emotion in so many ways, yet it can also be such a horrible thing when used incorrectly. As are so many things in life, it is totally in our control to wield it as a sword to conquer our goal or to allow it to cut us down.
As a negative discouragement can be something we allow to cut us off from our dreams. We can allow it to stop us from making great progress and we can succumb to its sibling… fear. Fear that we might fail. Fear that we may not be as good as we thought. Fear that we might never accomplish that dream. If we give in and quit because of fear or because of the feeling of being discouraged it has become a terrible thing and we aren’t doing ourselves justice.
The positives of discouragement are many. In some cases this feeling is a way to determine the wheat from the chaff. If pause and think about the discouragement, maybe the goal, task or dream just wasn’t quite worth it. It becomes the litmus test for to determine if we’re truly willing to give the effort, time, and energy needed to reach our dream. This can save us from chasing a dream that isn’t really important to us. It’s also part of the rub when we find ourselves chasing someone else’s dream instead of our own. Discouragement is a wonderful tripwire to cause us to pause and re-think our direction. If we make the decision out of fear (like the previous paragraph) we’ve lost and discouragement is bad. If we use this opportunity to think with logic and determine that this isn’t right for us discouragement just saved us from wasting our most valuable resource, the present. How wonderful is that?
Along a similar vein, discouragement has a tendency to cause us to reflect on why a goal was important to us. We have the opportunity to reexamine it, remember its worth, and then draw additional fire and drive to reach the goal. Today that was exactly what I heard in the voice of my teammate. As we talked about the why and what the path ahead held there was an increased passion, even a smile in their voice as we discussed how to press forward with even more vigor. When we feel discouraged we have an opportunity to dig deep and prove to ourselves just how gritty we can truly be. When we feel discouraged we have the unique opportunity to re-assess and appreciate just how important that dream is to us. It reminds us of just how much we care about the success of that goal. When my teammate is feeling that discouraged there’s a bit of joy I feel because it is so easy to see just how important that goal is to them. Blend that with how strong their grit is and I know that they will not fail, they will use this feeling to push forward to success.
Lastly, I don’t like to lose. I know, it’s a statement of competitiveness, but it’s one that drives me. Not against others, but rather, competitive against the me from last year, the me from yesterday, and the me from an hour ago. I want to always be better than I have been. When I feel discouraged it means there is a chance of failure, it means there’s a chance of getting stuck. If I am the best me possible and logically the dream and path are still right, I want to crush the discouragement to prove to myself that I can do it, to do something I haven’t done, and to build my confidence when a bigger challenge arises… which it will. Discouragement reminds me that it would be so easy to fail and lose to myself, to not grow, and it propels and drives me to grit it out. How wonderful is discouragement then? It essentially becomes dream fuel!
At the end of the day, discouragement isn’t good or bad, it just is. Like so much in our lives it’s up to us to add the context, rather, to CHOOSE the context we will apply to it. That choice makes all the difference in the world. Realizing the potential greatness to be gained from discouragement, I am so thankful for it today.
So as I started today’s blog I mentioned the context of how our conversation started today. We spent time talking about so many things that are often perceived as bad are actually beautiful and joy creating things when looked at through the right lens. As examples we shared death giving us appreciation for life, illness helping us appreciate health, work helping us appreciate purpose. That conversation was going to be my post for the day until we got to the topic of discouragement… and as I realized the beautiful symmetry of the two potential topics I smiled and felt great joy. I am so grateful for a conversation of remembering to choose the right context to something typically perceived as bad as it really helped me see and appreciate discouragement today.