Posts tagged ‘anxiety’
I screwed up at work last month.
I looked at the calendar and my stomach dropped. The annual report (a giant project) needed to be in hand in less than 2 weeks (it takes up a week to print) and we were approaching the Thanksgiving break (3 days off work). The problem? We had not even shown the client initial design concepts and the copy was not ready.
It’s not that we had not been meeting about it and working on it, but my lack of project management was glaring. Sure, I could give lots of excuses – like the fact that we had just launched a brand new website for the entire university… and my senior writer had just returned from maternity leave… and my designer was being pulled in too many little directions. But the buck stops with me and I screwed up.
I knew I couldn’t cry. I had to push through and find a way to pull a rabbit out of a hat. So I hired an outside designer who could work on it over the break and sent everyone the exact hours at which they would need to be available to turn around feedback within the hour. I had the Vice President for External Relations (my boss), the Assoc. Vice President for University Advancement, and several others working over the Thanksgiving break due to my lack of planning.
My boss is very slow to anger, but I knew that if there were ever a time to give me a good talking to, this would be it. I braced myself for our scheduled catch up meeting – ready to just nod my head and take the beating I surely deserved.
Some friends at church have a little phrase they use for stories that are told of the renewing power of grace that we experience or witness: “Grace Gone Wild Stories.” That day, I experienced grace gone wild at work.
I sat down and my boss just said, “How are you doing?” It wasn’t just your normal intro chit chat. It was different. I knew in the back of my head that this had to be a warm up for the beat down I was about to get. We talked about whether or not I was feeling burned out or under challenged. I finally had to ask: “Are you asking because of the debacle with the annual report.” He responded with: “Well, when you see things going along so well for so long and then there is this blip, you have to check in and make sure things are ok.”
I could feel the grace in that moment. He probably doesn’t even know how much of an example he set for me that day. I walked away experiencing compassion and concern for my well-being after I had been the one who messed up. In his wisdom, he probably knew that I already recognized the issue and would find a way to manage it in the future. He chose to check in with how I was doing. And, in the end, it made me want to work harder for him.
What is your automatic reaction when someone wrongs you in the office? When is the last time you showed grace instead of anger when someone’s error made you work over the holiday?
I challenge you to find new and creative ways to show God’s love to the fallible people in your sphere of influence.
“People are waiting for someone to come along and fix their life. Hope is the word of the year. Real hope doesn’t come from Washington; it comes from getting off your butt and fixing your own life.” These words by Dave Ramsey floated through the airwaves the other morning as I was getting ready for work.
I was stopped in my tracks and reminded of where my real hope comes from.
In chapter 3 of Lamentations, Jeremiah is walking through the city of Jerusalem after it has been destroyed by the Babylonians. Despair and destuction were all around him. Everything had fallen apart. In the midst of his lamenting, Jeremiah understands that there is hope in the Lord.
In Lam. 3:22-24, he proclaims, ”Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed. Because His compassion fails not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ’The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’”
More often than I would like to admit, I struggle with pride and place my hope in me. When anxiety creeps into my life because I am trying to get my butt in gear and fix my own life, I can rest in the fact that the Lord is my strength and in Him I can place my hope.
I’m not suggesting we just sit and do nothing and expect everything to get better, but I know a lot of good people being affected by this economy who are putting their best foot forward and coming up empty.
When emptiness seems to define your life, remember the story of Elisha and the widow’s oil in 2 Kings 4. The woman’s husband was dead and the creditor was coming to take her two sons to be his slaves. The woman had nothing in the house but a jar of oil. Elisha told her to go and borrow as many empty bottles as she could find. She was to shut the door behind her and pour the oil into the empty vessels. The oil filled the vessels until she ran out of vessels. Elisha then instructed her to go and sell the oil and pay off her debt.
Only when we are truly in an empty place can God reveal to us His deep provisions. Only when we are no longer dependent on ourselves can we really rely on Him. Only when our own resources have dried up can we draw from His special reserve for us. Our emptiness is a gift from the Lord.
Are you running on empty? Have you lost hope? Are you ridden with fear and anxiety? May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
A friend of mine sent me this video clip because she thought it was really funny. I totally agree. But there is also an important lesson here. Sometimes it takes challenging our normal thought patterns and considering issues from a different angle to gain the necessary perspective. There is not always one right answer. What issues at work or in life seem insurmountable? Is there an alternative way of approaching the issue? I bet there is!
Either way, you have to watch this because it’s just plain hilarious.
In the current economic climate, there’s a lot of talk about “opportunities to reinvent.” People speculate on what the auto industry needs to do or how our local governments, or the country as a whole, need to innovate to persevere. Boardrooms across the nation are brainstorming new ways to do business. Universities and other non-profits are having these same conversations. And if you read the career blogs, everyone is talking about the opportunity for people to reinvent themselves.
History shows us that tough times are times where substantial creativity and innovation can be found. Daniel Roth illustrates this on wired.com.
But some will struggle - those motivated by fear. The result will be an inability to take risks and find a new path. I’m afraid many of us will recoil and latch onto what we have known to work in the past. We will rely on worn patterns. I know I’m feeling drawn to protect what I already know to be the way you do things. I want to hunker down and ride out the storm. I want to make decisions that are safe and will protect me. I don’t want to rock the proverbial boat.
So I’m wondering, what are some things I can do personally to avoid obsolescence. How can I thrive in the midst of paralyzing uncertainty?
First, be anxious for nothing. Luke 21:34 warns us about being weighed down by the anxieties of life. Anxiety causes us to think about everything all at once. We get worked up and can’t slow our brains down. There is no room for thinking about God in this scenario – it’s a trap. Philippians 4:6 reminds us to ”not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Easier said than done, right? It’s tough to just say we are not going to worry anymore when certain realities (a lost job, salary cuts, waning retirement funds, rising healthcare costs, mortgage problems) slap us right upside the head.
Some possible ways:
1. Practice solitude. I recently challenged a class I was teaching on leadership to meditate once that next week. When we met again, only half of the group had followed through. Those who did not seemed uncomfortable – perhaps uncomfortable with the silence (something with which they were not familiar).
The value of mediation is that it slows down your mind. You can intentionally place your worries at the foot of the cross and focus on the nature of God. You can listen to what God might have to say to you.
Psalm 46:10 tells us to, “Be still, and know that I am God.” When is the last time you were still? I recently met a woman who leads silent retreats. What an interesting idea. Too bad we don’t find more ways to enter into silence without having to go on a retreat.
2. Have fun. On a walk through Balboa Park early one morning, I passed by a circle of people laughing hysterically. It was some sort of organized group with the sole purpose of laughing. While it seemed odd, it made sense. There are actually medical benefits to belly laughing! Get yourself out of your head and just do something fun.
Choose joy. A comment by a guest speaker at a retreat years ago has stuck in my head, and I use her advice anytime I’m going through a hard time. She suggested that when we are having a rough time and someone asks us how we are, we should respond with “Choosin’ joy!” (said with a southern twang). Sometimes it’s as simple as a choice.
Find community. Do you have a group of people who can travel alongside you in dark times?
Be thankful. Your perspective shifts when you count your blessings. Try it.
Serve others: It’s so easy to be focused on ourselves and our own problems. Taking the focus off yourself and placing it on someone else in need is good for the soul.
Dream big. When you are taken out of your comfort zone, consider it an opportunity to rethink some things. What are you passionate about? What is your ideal work environment? What have you always wanted to do? How could your strengths and talents best be used in the world to meet a need? Use your imagination.
Take small steps. Casting a vision is fun, but at some point you need to operationalize. Set long and short-term goals, and then begin to take small steps toward your dream. Start with your network. Who can help you reach your goals? If you don’t PUSH your way in the direction that best fits you, you may be PULLED in a random direction that leaves you disappointed and unfulfilled down the road.
Redefine success. Ask yourself, at the end of my life, how will I know I was successful? You will quickly realize that it’s not about possessions and big titles. Our identities can become so wrapped up in our work, and when a job is lost, we can doubt our own self worth. Redefining your success based on your influence in all spheres of your life helps. Defining your identity in Christ is the ultimate answer.