Growth in Difficult Times
One Saturday in March we had the oddest weather in Nashville. You’ll know exactly the type of day I am describing because we’ve all seen it. One minute it’s a magnificent sunny day, then an approaching ominous cloud unleashes a downpour of rain. Then, as fast as it comes, it disappears and the sun returns only to repeat the process over and over again.
I usually wish for that perfect, sunny day. Most of us do. We don’t like the bad weather, the dark clouds, lightning and thunder.
“Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.” -Epictetus
It’s like that in life, too. I am always hoping for that perfect weather. We don’t want to be sick. We don’t want to have difficulties at work. We pray for everything to be just perfect.
As I think about my career, my life and my experiences, I can honestly say that I’ve grown more in the difficult times. When a storm is raging in my life, I am forced to a new place. I have to change tactics, learn a new skill, and do something differently.
Lessons from Life’s Storms
Here are a few storms I’ve experienced:
- When I was in debt, I learned the value of saving and financial planning.
- When I started running a struggling company, I learned invaluable lessons in leadership, change management and business strategy that I never could have if things were going well.
- When I lost a job, I learned that my identity was not my employment.
- When I made some bad investments, I learned the value of good counsel.
- When I worked for a difficult boss, my skills grew faster than ever before.
- When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, my faith and reliance on God deepened.
- When I made the wrong hiring decision at work, I learned the value of “failing quickly.”
- When I suffered insomnia, I learned the sweetness of rest.
- When a friend passed away, I learned to appreciate each day in a new way.
My friend Steve Green recently recorded a beautiful rendition of a song by Laura Story called “Blessings.” The chorus goes like this:
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise’
When you’re in the middle of a storm, it feels like it will never end. You may not know which way to turn or what to do.
Just like the passing rain we experienced in Nashville, the storm will pass. When it does, you may find that you have a new clarity. You may find that the storm renewed you in ways you couldn’t have imagined. You may find that character is developed in challenging times.