I love this quote from despair.com…
“Pressure… It can turn a lump of coal into a flawless diamond – or an average person into a perfect basketcase.”
Reminds me of a scenario several years ago when I started working for a guy I’ll call Tim, more 13 years ago.
Tim intimidated some people. He was a “no nonsense” guy, which is exactly why I wanted to work for him. I was pretty full of myself at the time and I wanted to prove that I could work for anybody. I wanted to meet whatever challenges he could throw my way. Somehow, in my basketcase of a brain, I thought if Tim raved about me that it would be abundantly clear (to my non-existent public) that I was good enough. It’s embarrassing now, to spell that out. But it’s true.
A few years after I started working for Tim I wound up sitting in my doctor’s office dehydrated, exhausted, depressed and underweight. I was told I should take some of the sick days that had piled up while I tried to prove my invincibility. Ironic.
I took two weeks off to feel better. But I took it with a sense of defeat. When I got back to work, Tom and I had a heart-to-heart. He wanted to know if he had driven me too hard. But the truth is, it wasn’t him. I was just on some fruitless mission to prove that I was too good for sleep, and food, and priorities. Clearly I had a few things to learn about value.
Tim didn’t fire me. In fact, he later said something to me that really empowered me. As we talked about my potential and my limitations, he said to me, “Emily, my only fear for you is that you won’t dream big enough for your potential.”
That meant a great deal coming from someone who not only had high expectations, but who also had seen me blow up in the wake of my own unmet expectations. That conversation seems like it happened lifetime ago, but every time I feel my thinking start to get out of balance those words come back to me.
It’s so much easier to throw water balloons at my ego than to wrestle down the deeper fear — the fear of wasting my time throwing water balloons. (Oh, how the irony abounds.) That’s when I need Truth to empower my thinking… the Truth that I was made for something more than playing games to make myself feel better about not meeting the potential I’ve been given. The following is my lifelong prayer.
Dear God, help me fight the real battle inside me when I feel weak. Help me dream bigger than myself. Help me not to sabotage what You are doing in me with crazy expectations I can never meet. Help me make choices that are not self-destructive. Or selfish. Or both. Help me to remember that you are not disappointed with me. Empower me – especially in the moments when I feel like I’m not enough. And when You do that, help me to remember that it was all You. Stealing credit that belongs to You is only going to deepen my sense of failure. Thank You for Tim’s words that stay in front of me every day… words that keep me reaching higher than my limited vision to the things only the Creator of the Universe can accomplish in me.