I'm having a discouraging day today (see post below). It seems like I'm accomplishing so little on the grand scheme of things. I'm spending most of the day reminding myself of all my failings - I'm an ineffective leader, I haven't made any significant impact on this organization even though I've been here nearly 2 years, I don't seem to be able to figure out how to build a team, I feel like a dog barking in the wind speaking to people who rarely listen, I haven't figured out how to work effectively with the "difficult people" on the team, I'm letting people's opinions affect me too much - oh, the list could go on and on. Every time I THINK I'm taking a step forward, I'm forced to take 2 back.
How do you combat discouragement? I have no idea. I've prayed, I've tried to remind myself of the things I've done right, I've reached out to encourage other people hoping that the reaching out would lift my own spirits, I've vented to listening ears, I've gone for a walk to try to clear my head. Oh, they've all helped a little, but none of these things is sufficiently lifting me out of my mood.
At lunch time, I went for a walk and ended up where I often end up when I need a little comfort. No, I didn't head to a bar to order a stiff drink, nor did I go to the food store for a junk food fix (though, I admit, it was hugely tempting). No, what I did was head to the bookstore. Few things clear my head and help me think more clearly better than books.
I didn't find anything revolutionary or particularly mind altering. I browsed a little, picked up a few things that looked interesting (like a book on spiritual labyrinths and mazes - seemed like an intriquing idea), but didn't really find anything that helped. I walked back to the office with my spirits still fairly low.
When I got back to the office, I found myself still in a funk, unable to focus clearly enough to get any real work done. So I started browsing through my "looks interesting, find some time to read later" file, again hoping to find some written word that would lift my spirits.
This is what I found.... the speech that Bono delivered at the National Prayer Breakfast recently. (If you go to the link, scroll down the page to find "Bono's best sermon yet". It's worth the read.)
Well, I'm not entirely out of my funk. I STILL don't know how I'll solve all my team leadership problems. Bono didn't help me figure THAT out. But... I'm once again renewed and refreshed in my desire to be part of something bigger than myself - an effort to make the world a better, place, where the poor have a voice, the rich countries of the world are willing to share their power, and justice is available for all. I know, it sounds like a pipe dream, but everyone needs to have a dream. And we need to be part of something.
Here's a rock star who could be resting on his laurels, enjoying the "good life", kicking back on the French Riviera with his friends, and instead, he's daring to ruffle some feathers, get in their faces, talk to people in power, and make a difference. There is so much I admire about him, but one of the things that intrigues me most is his ability to get people to listen to him. Not just rock music enthusiasts, but Kings and Presidents and Corporations. And, according to an article about him in Time magazine, he's done it by speaking the language they can relate to. When he speaks to fundamentalist Christians (like the current administration) he quotes the Bible, when he speaks to big business, he uses economics, when he speaks to liberals, he uses justice language. There's something to be said for someone who can reach people where they are.
I may not be a rock star, but I can continue to try to use my voice to support those whose voices are never heard. It may not always be the easiest place to work, but I have an incredible opportunity to be part of an organization that's supporting the poor, and for that I am grateful.
To sum it up, here's a quote from Bono's speech:
A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it. I have a family, please look after them. I have this crazy idea...
And this wise man said: stop.
He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.
Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.
Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.