Responding To The Tough Stuff

When things don’t go as you planned, will you lose your patience? When you have to do something you don’t understand, will you get mad at yourself? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately.

The other day I had an extremely horrible day. So many small things kept going wrong and altogether I lost hours of my day doing work that I really felt like shouldn’t have to be done, because of my own mistake. I did something stupid that lost me an entire day of work, so I had two options in front of me that day: get really mad and blame it on someone else, or I could try to take it in stride.

The hard thing about being a leader over an organization is that I have to wear many hats. As a young organization, we can’t afford to hire people to do all the tasks that need to be done, so I have to learn how to do many of those tasks. I’ve had to learn how to code websites, how to do accounting, learn how to do my own marketing  and promotions, even how to edit videos. Some of these things come easy to me, but most are an uphill battle to learn. There are times when the difficult tasks that have to be done cause me to get a pain in my stomach because I know it is going to be a tough time for me. I know the task needs to be done and there’s no one else other than me to do it. But nonetheless I despise that time. I fear I’m doing it wrong. I fear I’m losing valuable time doing something that takes me much longer than it should. But what other option do I have? I’d like to say that it’s easy to find volunteers to do everything, but the reality is that it’s not. People are well-meaning, but often their time availability is very small.  I’m the only one who’s focusing 100% of my working time to making Cultivate move forward.

So I need to do the things that are hard, slow, and necessary. And learn to have the right response to these things.

My responses typically is to lose my patience, get angry, get frustrated, and just want to give up. But I’m learning to be more patient with myself, to be more gracious with myself, and I’m learning that I don’t have to do things perfectly. If I lose my patience or if I get frustrated, I only hurt myself. Others aren’t being hurt, just me. So even when a bad day happens, I can’t let it ruin me. I am learning to take a deep breath and come back to the task and keep at it. How I respond to these tough situations will make or break me as a leader, and will determine the future for this organization that I love so dearly.

Maybe someday we’ll have the resources to bring on people who understand these things. Someday we will have someone to do our accounting! I really look forward to that day. But until then, I’ll do the best that I can. I’ll continue to be gracious to myself knowing that I’m going to make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are going to cost me 10 hours to fix. That’s just the way life goes.

-Elaine, Executive Director