My sister and I were talking about the importance of perspective today.
She read me a Facebook post about the disappointment around high school kids missing out on proms and year-end trips due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Someone else added a comment underneath the post about high school kids in the late 60's and early 70's, and how they ended up taking their year-end trips to a place called Vietnam. #Perspective
Just after that conversation, I came across an old article I wrote about the value of struggling, and thought I'd share it.
I, in no way, want to diminish the struggles that all of us our going through during these times. I have no desire to quantify or qualify for anyone what it truly means "to struggle". I leave that up to your own interpretation.
I will however offer an invitation.
The invitation is one of perspective -- a consideration...
If this situation, (whatever that currently is for you), were happening FOR you, instead of TO you, how could you approach it?
If it is an opportunity... instead of a punishment... what is it offering?
How could you choose to meet that opportunity?
May all of your struggles be in service to your most fabulous life!
Struggle is an Opportunity, not a Punishment
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Fred Devito
Watching a petrified 12 year-old dangle from a wire, 30 feet in the air, does something to you.
Specifically for me, it inspires and empowers!
It doesn’t make me nervous, or afraid. It doesn’t have me feeling sorry for them, or even leaping to their rescue. Now, before you jump to the conclusion that I’m cruel and uncaring, let me explain...
Last week, I spent 3 days with 93 middle school students and the amazing folks at the non-profit organization, All it Takes. I was there as a mentor to support the students as they participated in mental, physical and emotional challenges aimed at transforming how they show up in the world.
One of the most amazing distinctions between this “camp” and other leadership programs is the way in which they use experiential learning to optimize growth and then process how it relates back to everyday life. It is much more a training than a camp!
One of my favourite activities is the high ropes course. Naturally, during this rotation we see several of the students struggling with fear of heights, ability to trust, etc. It has been intentionally designed to bring these fears to the surface.
This year I found myself mentoring the teachers as much as the students. I had to remind them (and myself) not to jump to the “rescue” every time someone was struggling. Noticing a student refusing to climb, one of the teachers explained to me why. She recounted how he was adopted and it was hard because he was often compared to his more “successful” brother.
Hearing that story only reinforced the need to encourage this boy to attempt the activity. In true All it Takes fashion, he was strongly encouraged to go “one step further than he believed he could go”. He wasn’t allowed to quit before he even started. He was presented an opportunity to prove to himself that he was more capable than he believed – that he was no less capable of success than his brother, or anyone else.
Want to know what happened?
Although he was guided to take at least one step onto the ladder, he not only climbed the entire ladder in record time, he also scaled the pole that led beyond it. Despite choosing not to step onto the very top or leap off, he left that activity realizing he could accomplish more than he believed possible.
I have no doubt that will positively translate into the rest of his life?
Struggle is an opportunity, not a punishment.
I recognize it is a pretty natural reaction, when you see someone struggling (especially a child), to want to take away some of the stress and worry. Ever find yourself filling in the blank when someone can’t find the right word, or takes a little longer to find an answer? Ever step in to complete a task when someone fumbles to get it done quickly enough?
We feel like we are saving them, or doing a service – that we’re being kind.
What if the kindest thing we can do, the greatest service we can provide, is to let them struggle?
What if instead of fixing it, we held the space and intention of "I believe in you. You got this!"
I think back to the struggles I’ve faced and how they’ve affected my life and my outlook on it. I’m grateful for the challenges that appeared “randomly” and uninvited, and I celebrate the courage it took for the ones I intentionally chose – and what it will take for the ones I continue to welcome in.
How about you?
What would be possible for your life if you started embracing new opportunities to struggle?
As I process the amazing transformations I witnessed at camp last week, I am even more convinced of its utility for me (and you).
May you experience and embrace the productive “struggles” that appear for you in these evolving times – and as a result, realize you are more capable (and fabulous) than you know!!
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