I am sometimes asked this at work: do I have capacity to add a new task or project? My answer is always yes (if you’ve read earlier posts, you may recall that I have a “yes” policy). But seriously, I do have capacity. My current position is a nice blend of projects, tasks, meetings, people…enough variety to keep it interesting and challenging, and yet not so stressful that it keeps me awake at night.
But when I think of this question in other contexts, I find myself wondering about my capacity. Everyone has a reservoir of strengths, energy, natural talent, courage, enthusiasm: the positive attributes that we all want to claim, and need, to meet daily challenges. But people have negative traits as well, and life can be derailed by discouragement, depression, fear, indecision. What is my capacity in the big picture? No life is static. There is an ebb and flow of circumstances and fortune. There is good and bad, enough to brighten and scar every human. Sometimes my capacity to absorb and bounce is much greater than at others.
It is difficult to be objective about myself. I know (or think I know) the reasons behind my my successes and failures. Even so, I can’t always explain why some days are easier; I’m focused, on target. And others, nothing works as well, or effortlessly. Isn’t that the universal human experience?
The important lesson is two-fold: an insight for myself, and a flash of enlightenment in the way I see others. For myself, I acknowledge that tenacity, persistence, and courage will carry me through the down times. I have to have faith in the process, allow time to work for me, and some days, just be willing to go to bed and get up to try again in the morning.
And how does this translate to the rest of the world? I know when I’m having a day that feels out of sync, off balance. And because I know, I make allowances for myself. Even if I’m disappointed in my performance, I can also have some patience, some tolerance for my shortcomings: tomorrow will be better; I’ll get it right the next time. I have to remind myself that when someone else disappoints me, lets me down, that I am probably seeing that person’s diminished capacity at that moment. It’s a bad day, or a bad week; but tomorrow will be better; they’ll get it right the next time. Yes, in fact, it turns out that we’re all human, and riddled with flaws as well as virtues. And although each of us can be our own worst critic, we also know when to give ourselves a pass. The challenge is to extend that to others in my life; to share the gift of grace. It isn’t easy, and it doesn’t always come naturally. But it is right.
And a personal disclaimer: if you see me not practicing this philiosphy…well, I must be having one of those days…and tomorrow will be better.