Originally featured at Millennial Leader
I had a professional setback a few weeks ago.
After months of preparation, one of my professional goals didn’t come to fruition the way I was hoping and honestly, it was difficult and frustrating to process. It’s moments like these that I, like many of us millennials are tempted to throw in the towel. Tempted to pull the plug, switch gears, change directions. It’s even tempted to make big life decisions when we don’t get our way or something becomes too difficult, because that’s just easier than processing a no, or persevering through the challenge and trying again.
Simply put, setbacks suck. But setbacks are life, and they can actually be far more transformative than actual successes.
I had coffee with a friend today. He told me the story of the business his dad runs. His dad was given an opportunity fresh out of college to, to work at a locally-owned furniture in south Georgia. They took a chance on him, and he took his job seriously. Fast forward a few decades, Wes told me about how the owner of this company had promoted him all the way to VP, where he has been leading effectively for years, becoming one of the most influential men in town. Wes spoke of his father’s cultural capital, as he reflected on the impact he had seen his father make in their community over the years because of the time he had put in at this company.
As I heard this story, I just couldn’t help but think – what’s the difference that separates my generation from this one. One word came to mind: staying power. Staying power allows you to patiently wait for roots to grow deep and impact to grow. Staying power produces character. Staying power allows you to lean into the hard stuff. I think my generation actually loves to do hard things, but what we don’t like to do is wait around for natural processes to run their course, or for professions to blossom or for relationships to grow. We wan promotions now. We want influence now. We want leadership now. We want the house, the dog, the wife, the kids, the 401k, the satisfaction of doing work we love and work that matters and work that does more than pay the bills and we want it all now. What we don’t want to do is lean into the hard stuff, and…wait. Because waiting, feels like inactivity. But waiting and inactivity are two entirely different things.
Waiting is an essential part of the Christian life.
We wait for sin to be worked out of our life, we wait for children to be born, sickness to be healed, careers to take off, poverty to be eliminated and ultimately we wait for an ultimate restoration of this world. And while we wait, we work to bring about the change we want to see.
At the end of your crazy week, don’t hate the waiting you’re in, and whatever you do don’t blow anything up in the process. Lean into the hard stuff, continue developing and let the process make you a better leader.