For Those Times When Life Sucks
It's what we sow that counts ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 27/04/2016 @ 8:00AM
The high-profile deaths of Victoria Wood and Prince have stirred a lot of comments on my social media feeds about an unusually high rate of celebrity deaths so far in 2016 ...
It's what we sow that counts, not what we reap.
copyright: violetkaipa / 123rf stock photo
Add in the news of earthquakes in Japan and the ongoing Syrian refugee tragedy, and we seem to be constantly reminded of the tenuous hold we have on life.
"For me, these high profile deaths are compounded by my own personal recent experience!"
I have had my own brush with death recently with an emergency admission to hospital where I went under the anaesthetic not sure I was coming back. At the same time, I'm supporting my husband who faces an uncertain future living with cancer.
Then one of my clients told me they're dealing with the fallout from a horrible workplace accident involving the death of a young man. I feel a deep sympathy for the family, friends and work colleagues who have lost this young man.
As a mother with a son the same age, I know how deep their shock and pain will be. I also know that though we believe we have protected our children, we never completely succeed in shielding either them or ourselves from the inevitability of death.
"It's always 'when' not 'if'!"
It is easy to get depressed about all this, and I'll be honest when I say that I have found it hard to maintain my usual resilience and stay positive, so if this blog post seems a bit self-indulgent do bear with me for once.
I have taken stock and fallen back onto my usual way of dealing with adversity, to re-affirm my purpose in life, that way I honour the privilege of being given some more time here.
Like many people, to face the stuff, good, bad and awful I need to know that it matters who I am and what I do. When I listen to others talk I know that is a legacy most of us want, to know that we made a difference.
When sitting down to write these words, what came to mind was an inspirational TV programme called Gareth Malone's Great Choir Reunion. What inspired me was the lasting impact he had had on so many people's lives, so much more than just another TV reality programme, the Military Wives Choirs being a particular example.
In my own life, I don't aspire to make an impact on such a grand scale. I am happy if my own little corner of the world is better because of what I did here. Two beliefs guide me in how I do this.
The first one is that I can only influence what other people do, they choose whether what I impart is for them or not. As a coach and teacher, I get a real boost when given feedback that someone took some nugget of information or some other insight from me that meant they achieved what they wanted. Sometimes it's not even new information, it can be just listening, supporting or linking them to someone who can help.
Allowing them to decide not to take up my input can be a struggle because in my keenness to make a difference it's hard to accept others right not to act or chose another path. I use such examples to evaluate what I have offered and what I have learnt from the experience, then my approach is more focused next time.
My more fundamental belief that influences how I work is that, as humans, we owe our success to our skills in collaboration.
We were never the strongest or had the biggest teeth or claws on the Savannah. What made us the most successful mammal species on Earth is working together. I read a lot about prehistoric man and it always strikes me that the first thing humans always do is build a community to give them a sense of place and belonging; a group of people who share their endeavours, create and celebrate success together. Our tragedy is when we forget this and focus on 'me, me, me'.
However successful I might be in a material sense if I haven't honoured the other people then in my final reckoning it's worthless.
Returning to my personal need to recover my own resilience, I have decided to take the following action:
I will continue to work in the spirit of collaboration it's 'we' not 'me'. For me, this means doing something for someone else every day. I have a target to do this for 5 people each day and it doesn't have to be something earth-shattering, just meaningful for them as well as me.
I'm going to keep a list of the feedback I get. I do already record my formal work testimonials and I often recount stories people give to me. What I don't keep is a record of the number of times people thank me or give me casual feedback in conversations. So I'm going to start a private list of where I've made a difference to reflect back on when it gets tough.
And when people have ignored my advice and chosen another route? Accept it in good grace and learn from what works for them as this is useful knowledge to share with others too.
"I would be delighted if any
of this helps you!"
If my blog post this week allows you to reaffirm what is important in your life and helps you to cope with the stuff life throws at you then it will have been worthwhile exercise. I'd be even more delighted if you shared your thoughts with me.
It's what we sow that counts, not what we reap.
Until next time ...
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