My daddy used to say, “Just keep living.” In general, he said that when something would happen to elicit a response of shock, surprise, or awe. As much as I have tried to plan the details of my life and script the next moves, life with determination and zeal brought unexpected events that altered the course of my life. It was interesting that as I reflected on unexpected life occurrences my mind immediately revisited the negative things. More specifically, I immediately considered the losses of people I love and separations from communities that fed me in some way. I wondered if I was the only one whose mind gravitated toward loss before reflecting on changes with positive implications or outcomes.
About six months ago, I expected to change positions at work. I knew that the new position would bring with it new demands on my time, a different tempo, and an expansion of my village building vision. As a result of the anticipated adjustments, I welcomed the transition period that included the coaching of my former supervisor. I quickly learned that not even the training period under the leadership of a seasoned, competent teacher could shield me from the shock of the unexpected things to come. This awesomely positive career move shook my normal into chaos and long work days. Some of the chaos was of the “drinking from the firehose” variety due to the nature of the work. Other aspects of the chaos came courtesy of my internal confusion and heightened excitement about the new opportunity. I often felt like the cartoonish Tasmanian devil spinning through spaces flinging the water from the firehose all around.
In a previous blog post entitled “Six Months” I considered “What will be different about me in six months” after I did not receive a job offer I thought I deserved. Once again, I have realized how much change was possible within me over a six months period. This time I learned that in six months there came a settling into the new space and the new feel created by the unexpected, shocking, awe-inspired life changes. What began six months ago with me adapting to jolts to my professional and personal spaces ended in me trying to decide what made me finally settle into the chaos. Part of me thought that maybe I settled because I got tired of feeling unsettled and confused. Another thought was that I settled because I grew accustomed to the new cadence. Finally, I rationalized that settling meant an ownership of the change and me embracing my capacity to manage my vision in the newly created spaces. Honestly, I am not sure if it was one of my theories or a combination of two or three that enabled me to “turn the corner” from maddening chaos to a more controlled version of chaotic normalcy. If you are like me, gaining some control in a chaotic moment equalled a victory.
I wondered if this feeling of accomplishment, the pleasure of overcoming the challenges, fit the definition of “letting the game come to you” or not. I thought of this like the moment there was a break in the terrible cold that made you forget what it was like to breathe freely until the break happened. Thankfully, intermittent breaks in chaos do present. During the breaks, I breathe without reminding myself to breathe. In life and in leadership, each challenge overcome becomes a step for the next challenge. For that reason, breathing is imperative because it opens the door for calm and clarity. Without fellowship with calmness and clarity, your grasp of control could be delayed. The small victories are blessing that gift the challenged logical thoughts, positive perceptions of confusing times, hopeful projections for future endeavors. As challenges arise in your life, be aware of the lessons you can learn about yourself and your mission while you endure the moments. Finally, be mindful of the temporal nature of the challenges and be sure that you have a six month goal set in anticipation of your successful navigation of the chaos.