Do You Feel Discouraged?
Are you discouraged? I thought as I developed as a leader and matured as a person, I would stop getting discouraged. But that has not been the case. Rather, I have improved in another area. I have become more resilient. I have become more capable to navigate the discouragement and failures I experience.
Let me show you what I have learned.
President Abraham Lincoln was unquestionably one of the best leaders in history. Yet, he was also quite often discouraged, even severely depressed. But he pressed on.
What Discouragement Means
To me the word discouraged means having no courage. No will to go on. As leaders, too many times we want to give up. We think to ourselves, inwardly, in the secret place where no one else can hear: I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I don’t know if I can pull it off.
It may be a failing relationship we seem unable to repair. A struggling organization we seem unable to shore up. A personal deficiency we seem unable to conquer. A prolonged fight we seem unable to win. A big mistake we can’t seem to forget. A distressing situation we seem unable to gain clarity over. Or an oppressive person keeping us down.
What Discouragement Sounds Like
This is what discouragement sounds like in our minds. These feelings may be spoken or unspoken and of varying intensity or frequency.
- I cannot do this.
- I thought I was better than that.
- I am stuck.
- I will never solve this.
- I am so hurt by this person.
- I feel helpless having tried and failed so many times.
- I want to quit.
- I am simply going through the motions.
- I feel sad because of this seemingly unsolvable problem.
I have felt all of these at some point in my life. These and similar thoughts are constant companions on our human journey. They will always knock on the doors of our souls.
Don’t open the door.
What to Do to Overcome Discouragement
When you feel discouraged, and you’re ready to throw in the towel, remember this simple point:
Rest, then come back.
Many times I wear myself out. I take on too much, situations get out of control, or my dreams get ahead of my capacity. People look to me for direction. I am expected to give. But I have no more to give. I wish that I didn’t get to that place, but I do. And it wears me down. Most leaders who are pushing forward have this experience.
I find that when I feel discouraged, I am also physically and/or emotionally worn down. Even on a daily basis, we usually feel discouragement in the evening when we are tired. Try to notice this for yourself. What do I do? Rest. Figure out what gives you rest, physically and emotionally. Then do it. Stop and rest.
And after you’ve rested, come back. Here’s what I mean…
- Keep Trying. That’s right, keep at it. Keep fighting.
- Restrategize. Many times we don’t like to face what is discouraging to us. It means stopping and rethinking things. If you have tried and fought with no apparent resolution, maybe the answer is to adjust the plan of attack.
- Continue Growing. The more we grow, the more we are able to face life’s rough spots.
- Rethink Failure. When we think of what is causing us discouragement as a normal part of life, then we just wait and ride it out.
Our goal must not be to live a life of no discouragement, or a life without any problems. Rather we must make it our goal to live a life of never giving up during times of discouragement and problems.
Actionable Step: First, become aware of the emotion of discouragement. Have a plan, before it comes on. Plan to rest when it comes, as much as you can. And always come back and continue your pursuit toward your goal.
What I Am Reading Now: The Jesus Agenda: Becoming An Agent Of Redemption by Dr. Albert Reyes. It has been an honor to be mentored this year by Dr. Reyes, the CEO of Buckner International, a global non-profit organization that brings hope to orphans and struggling families. In his book, Dr. Reyes talks about redemption as an act of rescue. God did that for us. We must do it for others.
For Further Reading: