In trying times and ordinary times alike, it’s all too easy to go to extremes and miss what is right in front of our eyes.
Face it: it’s easy to see the big stuff. The win, the loss, Recession, COVID-19, the big sale, a bad grade on a final…Beware.
When we are trying to accomplish something — anything — the beginning stages are where it’s easy to recognize change, because starting from nothing you have nothing to lose. Any change is easy to spot. Think new house construction: the framing and shape seem to grow out of the ground overnight. Stick a row of 8ft 2×4’s straight up and they’re difficult to miss. As the home nears completion, progress slows down and change can be harder to see, especially from the outside where it can look like nothing is happening. All the work is being done on the inside, and is much less obvious.
This isn’t only true for contractors; the later stages of personal accomplishment, or a company’s efforts to fight against the impacts of COVID-19, can feel the same — especially if the negative is outpacing the positive.
In psychology there is a term for this: Hedonic Adaptation. It’s the tendency of a person to return to their “ordinary” stable level of happiness, regardless of how great or how bad something is. On the one hand, that’s good; pain doesn’t last as long as initially feared, but it also means the highs and euphoria of success doesn’t either. We are surprisingly quick to acclimate to our current situation, accept it as ordinary, and forget how far we really have come to get here. As a result, it takes more and more effort for us to simply remember and see the value in our own accomplishments as we focus on the “what have you done for me lately” tendency, and/or stare in the eye of the next monster to battle.
One of our challenges as leaders, especially of ourselves, is to stay in tune to the changes and progress you experience in your own life and in the direction of your team. So many of us forget all the incredible things we’ve accomplished, or don’t notice the progress we’ve made because we all too quickly see the current situation as normal — good or bad. Resist the temptation of the ordinary, the lull the “Groundhog’s Day Effect” of the current crisis — you have made great progress. Find a way to remind you and your team of that success and the lessons learned. Celebrate your greatness. You succeeded before, you can succeed again. Even if it collapses, like a Phoenix you can and will rise from the ashes. How do I know? That’s easy. Because you are enough. Because your team is enough.
You have made real accomplishments; take time to name them and remember them. Remember your successes, and even the lessons, of your failures; they’ve led you to where you are today and are proof you can keep winning, or win again if you’ve fallen.
You are enough.