As the school year wraps up, I’m sharing some lessons learned from the front lines of high school; wisdom that reminds us of the importance of being accountable and stepping away from self-deception that can be so comfortable:
It is never just about the tornado. Taking my son and his friend back to school one weekend, we had to forego the trip because of the brutal weather. I am not the kind of gal who easily abandons a journey and changes direction. Doing so caused a recalibration of schedules, commitments, and deadlines. It also invited conversations about accountability. While tornados were pressing down, it was still important to show empathy and accountability after choosing the ever important self-regard. The tornado was a tornado: not an excuse.
Do hard things. Few things are harder than being an adolescent: there is a constant push-and-pull between learning how to stand strong and wanting to belong. There’s a seductive call of the Sirens and the need to find a mast to which one can be securely tied. The more we put ourselves in situations that test us and require us to make the right choices, the stronger we become. Our demons work out with weights! They will take us over if we don’t become stronger. Do hard things by doing the next right thing. Step into courage and out of denial and comfort.
Friends are not always friends. Life would not be as rich or joyful without friends. Yet, even the most dear and well-meaning pals can have moments in which they change or take unexpected turns. They might be trying to save themselves or find themselves; they might ask us to do things we don’t want to do or should not do. If someone asks you to do something for them because you are their friend – and you know in your gut that it is the wrong thing – remember this: saying “no” keeps your side of the street clean and your life less stressful.
Don’t widen the plate. How many times are we tempted to lower standards because someone does not want to do the work, a person is struggling, or someone wants an easy way out? Home plate is always seventeen inches across, regardless of who is throwing the pitch and at what speed. Wait for your pitch. Accept the seventeen inches. Doing so creates a life that goes more smoothly, a conscience that sleeps more easily at night, and contentment that comes from knowing trophies are not given because you show up. Prepare for life instead of expecting life to change to suit you.
Karen is currently writing a book about how the power of connection can transform leaders into catalysts, groups into teams, and businesses into places where people lean in to courage, clarity, and compassion.
During this time of sanitizing wipes, hands made raw from washing, and lighting many a candle, let’s take a page out of the playbook of a global team our firm has worked with for many a moon. Their success is built on a myriad of strengths which include the ability to navigate chaos with courage and wisdom, using it as a catalyst for transformation.