(Back in the day), college hopeful high school students chose to take foreign language classes. I chose not to. I had heard they were hard. Don’t walk through that door. Upper class students, who I knew were smart, didn’t always get an A in such classes. Hard work that garnered a C grade didn’t seem to make sense to me. Now I know, from the perspective of maturity, that challenging myself to take harder classes where I would not be ‘perfect’ would have had its own rewards. It is the homework of the brave.
As part of the coaching process, my clients answer year-end questions. I begin with, “What were your greatest challenges of the past year? The next question is “What were your greatest achievements of last year?” The answers sometimes surprise them. Most often, the responses are identical. In doing my own personal review of 2014, my greatest challenges were caring for my parents as they were dying (they passed away within two months of each other). What was my greatest achievement? The lessons I learned through loving and caring for them through that process. There were times I wanted to uncheck the box “responsible adult daughter”, I will admit that to you. If that act would have released me from the pain and discombobulated feelings. The moments when I was not my best self. When I revealed petty emotions, overwhelming grief, and critical words. If, by unchecking that box, I could have remained “perfect”, untouched. But to remain “perfect” would have limited the scope of the messy experience of loving people through to the very end and learning the lessons of dying and death. That’s an achievement worth hanging around for I think. Perfect didn’t have a place in the vocabulary of a richer life.
In telling me their stories of challenge and achievement, I see over and over again, the resilience of people. All the people I meet who have crushing work loads or difficult relationships or sadness and loss in the past, shape their experience to be transformative. In connecting with strength, and riding that wild boat through to the other side, I see them reap great rewards.
I would love to hear about your challenges of the past year. Your achievements. Please share so the rest of us can learn.