Updated: May 25
This post is the seventh in a series on Green trends and foresight in support of our forthcoming GreenSenses Workshop: Practical Strategies for Career Pivots
What do you do when life challenges get in the way of your journey? How do you turn adversity into advantages?
We have a human tendency not to want to see negatives
Resilience is the key to addressing the rocky parts of the path
Creativity and foresight are valuable partners on your journey
Imagination is valuable for anticipating good and bad stories or options and pre-planning for them
Being “in the moment” and “of the moment” is essential for continuing to move forward
Do you have a favorite Olympic hero? Beth has been inspired by a range of athletes, including swimmer Mark Spitz, sprinter Usain Bolt, and slalom skier Mikaela Schiffrin, among many others. Each of these amateur competitors – and likely the ones you admire as well – surmounted obstacles large and small to fulfill their Olympic goals.
The one Olympian who always captures Beth’s heart is “Eddie the Eagle,” the nickname of British ski-jumper Michael Edwards. Eddie was fully committed to his sport, no matter how difficult the odds.
The odds often seemed stacked against him. He was self-funded and struggled to raise the resources needed to support his trip to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Eddie was also farsighted, wearing thick glasses that fogged up at altitude when it was time for him to compete. And he weighed 20 lbs. more than his closest competitor.
But…while he did not medal at the Games, Eddie was committed. His 71-meter jump was then a British record and it still puts him at sixth among all-time British ski jumpers.[i] He set a goal and was not to be dissuaded.
Even though you may not deal with the wealth of challenges Eddie faced, you may confront similar personal hurdles to jump on your Green career journey. You’re committed to the journey, and you persevere, knowing full well there will be struggles along the way. Often, our chosen path isn’t working out for us in the way we’d like, and we are invited to double-back and try something else. Like Siri does when we’re in the car, we lean into our persistence and re-route ourselves.
“When life gives you lemons, order the lobster tail.” – Ziad K. Abdelnour
Resilience is the key to addressing these rocky paths. You might even consider them “friends” who bring you learning experiences. When we tap into our resilience, we recall, “I’ve faced tests and trials before.” We remember the key phrase, “I can handle it.” The support doesn’t have to come from you. Perhaps you want to recall “an Eddie the Eagle” amongst our friends and heroines. Your mentors and cheerleaders are there for you to help you figure it out and make it through.
We can learn to step back and assess the situation before we get on the road. There also is value in conducting a pre-mortem, in identifying all the possible ways things could go off track, and then proactively putting strategies in place to be able to address them.
We also can benefit from using this kind of foresight by imagining different stories. How would we handle it if there’s a traffic nightmare? What other options might we have if the train employees are out on strike? This is where training exercises and dress rehearsals are valuable, as our creativity can guide us in exploring ways to respond before the challenges arise. We get to “try out” what might happen, both best and worst, and creatively practice how we want to respond in “real-time.”
The more we travel our path, the more we learn about ourselves and the destination. For example, as Beth became more involved as a Tree Steward, she realized that her teaching and mentoring skills could be beneficial to others who want to pursue a Green career. And that led her to discern the value of being engaged with others who are committed to a more sustainable world, through Leaders in Energy and several other sustainability-focused organizations.
It also created awareness for Beth of the importance of reflective time in nature, to allow her the internal resources to do what she’s most passionate about. This is why she goes on a daily morning walk as well as an evening walk to open and close out the day. She doesn’t work before or after either walk, as a way of reconnecting with her calling and at the same time replenishing her for the work she’s here to do in the world.
As you can see, as one travels the hero’s journey, one’s intuition becomes sharper and more trustworthy. It strengthens our persistence and serves as one of the productive fruits of the journey.
“By the tragic gap I mean the gap between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible — not because we wish it were so, but because we’ve seen it with our own eyes.” —Parker J. Palmer
Finally, being “in the moment” and “of the moment” is essential for continuing to move forward on your Green career journey. This requires self-awareness of your own strengths and what contribution you can make to fostering sustainability and acknowledging what Parker Palmer calls the “tragic gap”[ii] between what our big picture vision is and what today’s reality is as we travel on the path.
Some questions to ponder:
What are the stories in your past when you’ve overcome something?
How could you tap into the wisdom of “an Eddie the Eagle” on your Green career journey?
What challenges might you rehearse for your journey?
How can you turn the frustrations of the challenges you face into virtues of learning and living?
Can we help with building and sustaining the skills you or your team need to advance professionally? Reach out to Beth Offenbacker, PhD, CPCC, ACC, at email@example.com or via phone or text at 703-623-4811 to discuss if our Green Career, Executive/Leadership Coaching, Small Group Coaching and Mentoring, or Learning & Development services are right for you. We work with professionals and organizations that have a sustainability focus in their work. All services are customized to your needs.