I had a conversation with a friend this morning. She is job hunting and appears to be a finalist for a position that excites her. But she shared with me that all the waiting is making her grumpy. Patience, she says, is not her strong suit.
I should also share that this friend is a bright, promising young woman. She is skilled and has worked hard to develop a resume full of experience. Moreover, she is full of heart and her enthusiasm spills generously out of her. She is just one of those people that lights up a room. Despite her expressed state of grump, my friend also said that she knows there is a lesson in everything.
Wow. She is a gem.
And so I began to think about those times when I, too, have been irritated or annoyed at a process. I reflected on the work meetings that seem to circle, the repeat conversations at home, and the friend who took longer than any person should ever take to pick something off the menu at dinner last week. Like my friend in her current situation, I experienced a level of impatience in each of these situations that made me grumpy. (In my defense, I was really hungry at dinner last week!)
My reflection also led me to realize that I often miss the lesson in each of these situations. Sure, there may be a less important message in waiting for someone to pick pepperoni or sausage on their pizza, but if I had focused on what I could learn or contribute instead of the rumble in my stomach, perhaps I could have helped in some way. I also realized that my impatience might have stemmed from my inability to control the situation. Like my friend who is waiting for a job offer, I need to realize that sometimes the best I can do is sit patiently and wait. In her words: “I’ve done the absolute best I can do.”
And maybe that is the lesson in everything.
The way I see it, there are four “rules” we can follow to make the most of almost any life situation:
1. Show up. And I mean really show up. Bring all of yourself – your talents, your experience, your heart – to everything you do. If you can’t do that, I feel like you lose your right to complain if things don’t go your way.
2. Do your best. Commit to using your skills and talents to foster the best outcome possible. Make the best effort and decisions you can. And once you’ve made them, don’t second guess yourself. Resolve that you’ve made the best effort possible and be proud of that.
3. Understand that you can’t control everything. This one is hard. But there is a truth and order in the universe that is outside of ourselves. At some point, each of us has to have faith that things will work out in the way they are intended. Letting go of that need for absolute control frees us to be open to possibilities (even if we can’t see them at that moment).
4. Be grateful. There are blessings in every situation if we choose to find them (and sometimes they are really buried under a pile of disappointment and self doubt). But finding gratitude requires us to reframe our thinking. Instead of focusing on what didn’t go the way we hoped, we need to step back and look for the lessons we can learn about ourselves, our relationships, and our potential. And then be thankful.
I wish my friend the best of luck in her job search. But she doesn’t need luck. With a little patience and some time, she will find herself exactly where the universe needs her. I have no doubt.