I thought it would get easier. I believed, really believed, once the company grew, the problems, the challenges, the frustrations would just go away…they’d go “poof!” and vanish into the air.
If I could, I’d go back and pat my 10-years-ago self on the head and say, “Oh, that’s cute,” and maybe even a Yoda-like, “Much to learn you have”. The problems…yeah, they never go away.
In a recent annual review with a member of our team, this exact topic of conversation came up about their perceived rate of growth. They were feeling frustrated by the seemingly continual stream of roadblocks. In response, I asked them to tell me about something they struggled with a year ago. They started to tell me their example, and midway through the story, a knowing smile began to flash across their face. I asked, “And would that be difficult for you today?”
Of course not. It wouldn’t even be on the radar. At one point in our lives, tying our shoes was a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Can you imagine your life today if shoestrings were still your biggest foe?
Stop wishing for no problems; hope for new, more interesting ones.
For me, that’s a true sign of growth—a sign that I’m a better version of myself today than I was last week or last year, that the worst day today is better than the best day a year ago. If my challenges today are harder and more complicated than they once were, that means that they are more impactful and more fulfilling than yesterday’s. And so, onward and upward I march, despite it being muddy and messy.
I recently came across a variation of this poem attributed to Inayat Khan that really drove this point home for me:
I asked for strength…and I was given difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom…and I was given problems to learn to solve.
I asked for prosperity…and I was given a brain and brawn to work.
I asked for courage…and I was given dangers to overcome.
I asked for love…and I was given people to help.
I asked for favours…and I was given opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.
Achievers’ minds are amazingly effective at dismissing accomplishments and ruminating on every mistake and failure. If time is not taken to pause, reflect back, and pay attention to the elevation markers along the journey, it’s really easy to become discouraged and lose sight of the progress you’re making and the person you’re becoming.
What is something that you were once frustrated by, that with time and space, you are now grateful for?
Something that while going through it, you may have asked, “Why me?” but now you say, “Thank you”?