Why can’t life be easier? Why won’t people just do what they are supposed to do? Why don’t things go the way they were planned? Why does everything have to be a struggle? We all say these things when we are frustrated and, well,,,struggling.
What Struggle Is
I know you won’t like reading this, but your struggles are mostly self-induced. You see, whenever you struggle, it is an indication that everything you have learned, know how to do and has worked in the past is insufficient for this moment. That’s why it feels like a struggle.
Struggling, therefore, is simply repeated attempts to apply your insufficient knowledge and skill to a situation that demands more from you. The more and longer you keep doing what doesn’t work, the more you struggle. Let that sink in for a moment.
How Struggle Works
Your first reaction is to change the person or situation so that it conforms to what you know how to do. “If you would quit acting that way or start doing it this way, my limited capability would work!” So you apply more pressure, more inspiration, explain further, or extend more patience, all in hopes of reshaping the person or situation to your liking. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not. When it doesn’t, how long will you do this until you finally realize that the solution is beyond your limited ability? The answer lies in how long you are willing to struggle.
What are you struggling with? Another colleague? An organizational dynamic? A client problem? An internal nemesis? Tough decisions. Difficult people. Awkward situations. When one is bigger than you are right now, it requires more of you than you have to give. What will you do?
You have 3 options. You can quit. You can continue to struggle. Or you can expand your capability to meet the challenge. The third option means you have to do something different. But since you don’t know what else to do, you go back to what you know. Rinse and repeat.
Leaders and Struggle
Leaders who have accelerated their development are the ones who have expanded their capability to successfully engage situations that require more of them. They avoid trial and error as much as possible and find accelerating resources. This is where you would benefit from some help to think through and work through a better way. A break-through coach, an honest peer group and quality feedback loops can help you expand your competence. Just remember that when nothing seems to work, you have a choice to struggle or learn.
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