When the work gets hard…

A long- time member yelled at you today, and it felt like the last straw. A product launch didn’t go as planned. A business relationship fell apart. The team didn’t meet its goal for the third consecutive month.

American culture rewards success. We like upward trajectories, and failures and struggles are only as good as the success testimony on the other side. If you have simply lived at all, you know that life is not always an upward growth path. So why do we pretend that our work is?

It could be for many reasons. Opportunities often come to successful people and organizations because we trust people with a proven track record. We wear our professional selves to work out of protocol and that often means ‘framing’ challenges from the perspective of lessons learned.  We simply live in a society that doesn’t appreciate always appreciate the process to get to the outcome.

It matters that we acknowledge that sometimes work is difficult. There are days where work doesn’t feel inspirational, or is merely routine.  Sometimes we feel that the positive impact we are trying to have isn’t felt. This is especially true in an industry like the credit union industry; where many of us work because we believe we are working to serve.  

Work can be hard when communication is lacking. Communication takes work and is one of those things we can ‘forget’ to do. Often, when things aren’t getting done well it is because people are not coordinating and communicating. Good communication takes intention, focus and time. It is important to reflect on whether we are giving time to the soft work that enables tangible results.  

It can also be hard when there is not enough focus and too many priorities.  Individually, everyone has a set capacity for what they can take on and manage well.  Although we would like to exceed our own limits and maximize our potential, personal and professional growth is not infinite. In some cases, additional resources or training may help. Other times, as hard as it can be, we need to recognize when it is time to do more by doing less. We should recognize when the full weight of all our inspired ideas become overwhelming. Significant work takes significant time, and if a person is pulled in too many directions they don’t perform to full capacity. Some projects require a veto before they begin. Not because they aren’t worthy, but because the project won’t get the attention it deserves.

People are people outside of their jobs. Sometimes we forget that people are never divorced from their personal challenges that happen outside of work. We come to work to work, and we should. The mantra to leave our personal lives at the door is still true because we are being compensated for the value and focus we bring to the work in front of us. Still, despite best efforts to do so, the things that happen outside of work don’t go away when we walk through the front door of the credit union. If pressure in one’s personal life is ongoing, it can make work hard too. As coworkers, we need to understand that at times, people will behave in ways that have nothing to do with what is happening in the office. As individuals, if we are the person under tremendous pressure, we have a responsibility to care for ourselves so our personal issues can be resolved outside of the office. Give yourself and others grace for what is going on outside of work.

Occasionally it is time to move on. Work can get hard because it is routine – because you are so comfortable in your role that you are not inspired anymore. It is possible to become stagnant in your work. At times, it is possible to take on new challenges at work but that is not always the case. Work is also a place where we spend a significant portion of our lives, so if it is too difficult for too long it may mean it is time to look for other options.  

Work, just like life, has seasons. There are seasons of breakthrough and seasons of plateau. There will be seasons of both struggle and victory. Sometimes we need not to rush too quickly to the lessons learned but recognize that endurance through the process makes us resilient. Strength always requires a level of resistance.  The real lesson doesn’t fully shine until we push through and have the benefit of perspective after the process.  

Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall is the Chief Community Development Officer at Great Lakes Credit Union, headquartered in Bannockburn, IL. Her background in community development includes community organizing, social enterprise small business work, ... Web: www.glcu.org Details

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