In the fall of 2015, I had used my assertiveness to land myself in a new role within the organization. I was nervously optimistic about the possibilities.
I still have the text message I received from the executive vice president of Strategy for the company.
“Saw the announcement. HUGE leap! Congratulations! Good luck. #Impressive”
I was talking to my mentor in the presence of her husband, a retired corporate CEO, who was never short on words and advice.
“I am excited to get started because I am going to blow the naysayers minds. I have had so many peers reach out expressing their congratulations. But it is also clear that they think I am crazy for making the jump into a new line of business. I will be successful, watch me.” I explained to Lisa.
“So, are you prepared to fail up?” came this heavy baritone voice from the kitchen nearby.
“Prepared to fail up?” I thought to myself as I continued my conversation with Lisa.
What exactly was he asking me? Of course, I knew that failure was a possibility, that is why it is called a risk. But what does it mean to fail “up”?
When he asked the question, I did not give a response. I simply looked at my friend, Lisa with a confused look of, “What is he talking about?” Her response, “Chile, keep talking.”
Before I left, I did have an opportunity to ask him for better clarity around this question. Although my relationship was with his wife, I recognize that he had wisdom to share and I was intrigued.
Here is how I would rephrase his question:
How will you handle the difficulties that are sure to come? How will you not allow those difficult moments to overcome you and derail you from your path?
One of the many ‘wisdoms’ of my grandmother included her sage advice, “Life is a like a Ferris wheel. When things are down, hold on because they will come up. When things are up, hold on, they will come down.”
A cycle is a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order, or a complete set or series.
My life and career have shown me that my grandmother’s advice is a fundamental truth. It is universal law.
What goes up, must come down!
So, the question from my friend’s husband, was both timely and appropriate.
I believe that the moment we make our heart’s desires known to God, it starts a new cycle of growth. When I explain this to teens and younger adults, I akin it to a restaurant drive-thru experience. When you place your order at the drive thru, the process of getting you exactly what you want begins.
We have the power to choose how we will endure the growth journey.
The way we respond during these moments either propel us forward or slow us down (keep us stuck).
How do I handle these transitions?
First in the mind, then in action.
Acceptance. I embrace the truth that difficult times come to prepare us for our next level. Acceptance that most times, these times will not feel good.
Gratitude. I give God thanks for trusting me with more. I give him thanks for hearing the desires of my heart.
Perseverance. I buckle in for the ride knowing that God’s grace is sufficient. And the belief that my potential is ALWAYS bigger than my problem.
These thoughts alone are not enough to get me through.
That is the point, right? To get through to the other side.
I have found my greatest chance to get “through” comes in my actions.
Developing Your Pattern Forward
Cycles are patterns. They are repeated patterns. When something is repeated, it means it follows the same or similar sequence.
Would you believe me if I told you that there is a pattern that you always follow when change is on the horizon?
It is true. There is.
The key is to discover what your pattern is and then modify your pattern.
Spend time recalling transitional moments in your life. Moments when your life changed courses. Those moments we call defining moments. Make sure you span a few time periods. (High school, college, personal, career, family, etc.)
Capture your general thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors during each moment.
Here is what I discovered about myself when I first did this assignment:
I enter new assignments with great enthusiasm. I am open to learning new things and making new connections.
I deliver fast results for myself and others.
I invest in creating sustained momentum.
I celebrate successes along the way.
Whether it was my first time in teen group counseling at the age of 12 or when I experienced challenges as an early professional, these patterns were present for me.
But what had I been missing?
No matter how much success I had encountered, there was still a great deal of pain and discomfort during transitions.
I was sitting in my new apartment in Chicago watching YouTube. A video interview of Oprah Winfrey came on. She shared a question that she likes to ask her guests on Super Soul Sunday.
“What’s the lesson that’s taken you the hardest to learn?”
Her question forced me back into reflective state about my pattern.
The “hardest lesson to learn” shows up in our repeated feelings during difficult times. It is hidden in our persistent thoughts.
Feelings of betrayal
Caught off guard
Like I keep hitting a brick wall
These were some of my most prevalent thoughts and feelings in moments of difficulty.
My newfound awareness became the leading indicator in my life that I am in a transition cycle. I was now empowered to respond more productively.
My old pattern went something like: I get hit with a difficult situation, I continue to push and fight my way through. The situation becomes more difficult. I continue to forge my way using my old patterns until the pain or difficulty is so loud that I cannot ignore it. Once the pain reaches an unbearable point, then I turn my heart, ears, and mouth to God.
Thank God for Grace! He is always lovingly waiting for me. He clears the road for me once again.
However, I am left with more collateral damage than necessary. Wasted time and energy.
I needed a new pattern.
In my apartment in the summer of 2016, I wrote my new pattern in my journal. I kept all the good behaviors of recreating success. However, I added:
When I start feeling betrayed, caught off guard or like I hit a brick wall, it’s time to pause and go inward. My prayer will be: “God what is this situation trying to teach me?” and my declaration is “All things happen for me. Nothing happens to me.”
Sure, trials and difficulties still come. My thoughts and beliefs during those moments still hold true. But I am no longer powerless and a victim. I am connected and a warrior. I am equipped and NOTHING CAN STOP ME!
“I see life’s most challenging moments as cocooning seasons. They are the moments that God designed for my caterpillar to butterfly occasions. It is my job to accept that cycles are important to my destiny. It is equally important for me to trust God and let go!” – Kenya Dunn