The Productive Struggle (post 1 of 3)

I recently found myself in the midst of a major struggle. I will share the phases of this struggle in my next three posts over the next three days, starting with this one.

As a problem-solving, advice-giving, “It’s all in your perspective. Just reframe!” guy, this is hard for me to admit to myself and harder still to admit in a blog post. But, perhaps my struggle echoes one you have met or one you’ll meet down the road.  Perhaps my journey through it and what I learned from it, can help you. Perhaps your experience, if you are willing to share it, can help me as I encounter (and I will) future struggles.

It is not a bad thing to drive home at the end of the day with some anxiety, a racing mind, or a bit of restlessness; it means we care. Two days ago, however, I drove home with an ulcer-blooming pit in my stomach.  On the drive, I pummeled myself with questions and harsh critiques. A few days of unusually daunting challenges had left me feeling sorry for myself, misunderstood, and ineffectual.

I’m sure you’ve had the exact same car ride home, and during it, our minds race, our stomachs turn, and we search for answers to:

What the hell is going on?

Why is this happening?

Who’s responsible?

And the killer… How can I fix it?

We all have struggles at work. Whether we are managing relationships with our colleagues, fighting to meet a deadline, or like me, struggling to make changes, we know how powerfully and how quickly anxiety arrives.  Ah yes, STRESS.

Adversity and the ensuing stress can have a negative impact on both our mental and physical health, yet it can also open a door.  At some point during that ride, I was able to get out of my own way. I stumbled back to the big picture, the mission of our school, my mission, the reason I took the job in the first place—the students.  Once I was able to bring it back to them, a new thought emerged. I began to consider a what-if, and it began to take hold of me and re-center me.

What if every element surrounding the problem was off-base?  What then?

To be continued…