This week has been a long week…In fact this month is proving to be a long month and we’re only on the seventh day. Sometimes things don’t go exactly how we had hoped; people let us down, we face personal trials and tests and we have a bad day, week or even month. Why is it that all of this seems to happen at the same time? Life can be tough and sometimes even feel unfair. How can we get through that and remember our own goals, desires and dreams. Personally, sometimes my own goals, dreams and desires and my belief in God are the only things that have got me through my tough times. And believe me I’ve had my fare share of rubbish in my life.
I often empathise with the students at A Mind Apart because of the tough times they lead and the difficulties they have. I often wonder how I would have dealt with having no parents at all, or nowhere to call home, growing up in and around crime and poverty, simply because that’s what they were born into. Even through my trials and difficulties, my life somehow seems like it’s been easier. As lent begun this week I have been prompted to spend more quiet time with God. Something that is very important to my faith, but that I don’t manage to do enough of. I’m very good at ‘praying on the go’ and turning to God in the tough times, but having those moments where I’m left with my own thoughts and nothing but the word of God in front of me don’t seem to happen as much as they perhaps should. So this year rather than giving something up, I’ve taken up more time with God and being quiet with my thoughts. For those of you who don’t believe in God you might relate the act to meditating, but for me my prayer time is something much deeper than meditating and much more personal.
It’s during these times this week, through the mess and the let downs from individuals that I have invested my professional and personal time into and life generally taking over in the company, that I have felt the whisper of God remind me of the word Perseverance.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a faith or not this is a word that we could all spend time thinking a little more about. What does it mean to us? In today’s society I’m not sure we spend enough time persevering with things. We seem to want everything now and as a quick fix. On a daily basis I get frustrated with young people expecting instant results and going back to their life of chaos because they didn’t get a response from the first job application we helped them send, or not completing a course because it’s taking longer than a few weeks. Why do we want everything so quick? There was a time when technology wasn’t around. I often wonder whether the historical figures and leaders that didn’t have the stress of the technological ‘everything now’ culture were happier and more content with their lives?
The voice in the back of my mind seems to have been repeatedly reminding me to have perseverance. My problem here, is that with perseverance comes patience, and this is what I am not so good at. In some ways being impatient is part of what has pushed me to grow A Mind Apart, but there are other areas of my life where it has led me into near disasters. Yet it’s perseverance and patience that we need to get us through the difficult times and the trials that we face. I don’t believe that God allows us to face things that we can’t deal with. That we can’t grow from. I’m not saying that God gives us these trials or difficulties but I am saying that I believe that he uses all for good. For our good! The things he knows we can’t cope with he removes quickly from us or doesn’t allow them to touch us in the first place. But those things we can deal with he helps us get through them and makes sure that we become stronger and more resilient to life. We are incredible beings, and I’m often reminded of our ability to survive in the worse situations when I speak to some of our young people. They seem to cope with situations many adults I know would deem impossible to deal with.
I regularly wish I could meet that young person again in ten years time and learn about how the trials they face now have changed their lives, how the perseverance they learn with us has helped them to improve their circumstances. It’s funny how this is one of the main principles we teach our students, and yet it’s the one thing myself and my management team have been battling with this week. It has been the young people and the realisation that I would not be expected to do this if I could not manage it, that has got me through this week. I realise that many people would not be able to work with some of the young people my staff and I work with and have the successes A Mind Apart have with them. I realise that few people would not be able to move between the amount of roles that I uphold in the company and as a professional within the Social Enterprise Sector, or even have the time for it all. But I do it because God has made sure I can do it. I do it because it’s what I have been given. It’s where I have been placed at this time in my life, and because of that I must persevere with it. For my staff. For the young people we engage. For me. In the same ways that others wouldn’t cope with my world, I would not cope with someone else’s world, because their trials are not for me, their path is their own path and I would never want someone else’s path. Mine is enough to deal with for me, and persevering on my path is hard enough.
From experience I know that soon after a trial when perseverance takes place what follows is a victory! Maybe if more leaders persevered in the way Mandala did, maybe we would have better companies, better schools, better countries? Perhaps if we persevered with our political fights for longer we would see something move? Sometimes it’s too easy to give up. It’s too easy to go back and work for someone else or to let a cause go because you don’t feel that you’re being heard, or to let someone mistreat you wrongly because you’re tired of trying to stand up to what you know is right. In business, I firmly believe the businesses that succeed are the businesses that learn to persevere through the tough times. We are never given anything we can not cope with, and if something is taken from us, it is because we can not cope with it at that moment in our lives. And who would want to try and cope with something that they were not ready for? On a personal note when I reflect on three years ago, I would not have been able to cope with what I now face in my personal trials and on a daily basis in my business. And I am sure that in three years time I will be coping with even greater trials, that now I can not even consider. But for now, you and I are right where we should be, dealing with the trials we should be dealing with, and not facing anything that we can not get through with perseverance. So what is it that you need to do to make sure that you continue to persevere on the road that you have been given?