In the school where I’m now a Career Advisor there is a 20-minute rule which indicates that a person must work for 20 minutes on a problem in which they are stuck before asking for help. The reason is that after that time has lapsed, the chances of you seeing what has you pinned in place are diminished. So you ask your neighbor. If after 20 minutes you are still stuck, then you ask an instructor and they clear the path for you. This is referred to as Strength in the Struggle. With each problem you have a chance to solve, you become more confident, more capable, more self-sufficient.
I can appreciate this rule because that is the defining moment of my career. I recently shared a quote from Simon Sinek that indicated those who fear change are those who have mastered what currently is. I was that master as the Editing Coordinator of a local TV station. The owners bought and installed new software and with that, I knew that the playing field was leveled, so I set aside time after the morning news broadcast to practice my craft using the new platform. My defining moment came when there was something seemingly simple I wanted to do and I could not for the life of me figure how to do it. I went to the help section. Nothing. I clicked a few buttons. Nothing. I clicked again. Finally, on the umpteenth time of flipping through the manual, EUREKA! I found the answer and moved on. That was the moment when I knew that I would not be defeated.
Sure enough, come launch day I required little assistance which freed our consultant up to be with other operators. That consultant later recommended I be a trainer and that is how I traveled the United States and Australia as a Training Specialist.
When I first heard of Strength in Struggle it was the second time in one day that I made the reference to the story of the man who watched the writhing of a cocoon, and in compassion, ripped it open to let the butterfly out. The short life of the butterfly was cut even shorter by this act of kindness because, as it turns out, that time writhing in the cocoon – the struggle – is what makes the wings of the butterfly strong enough to fly. As I think back on my study of our relationship with nature I realize also that it is the pecking on the shell from the inside that both breaks the bird out and strengths its beak, and it’s the wind pushing on the tops of trees that give them their strength and, thus, their ability that stand tall.
To master this message, the keys are these:
- Give yourself time to figure things out. If you are always going to others for answers, you won’t ever know how capable you are to find your own.
- Don’t be the martyr. It is not the end of the world to have to ask for help, in fact, this just might be what you need to get you moving while making you that much wiser for the next challenge you face.
- Know what got you here. You haven’t reached this turning point by taking the easy route. Even if you thought you had, there have likely be challenges along the way. If you’re the type to easily brush aside your accomplishments, take a moment to acknowledge what it took for you to get this far.
As a matter of fact, take a moment to think back over the last month, year, or five years. What has been your struggle? Now that you’ve named it, think of all the ways in which that struggle has made you strong.