Let me begin by saying that this post will share with you something that has become very close to my heart. My story pertains mostly to church life, however, now in my mid-twenties I face similar lessons in business – and I am certain this post will be applicable to most people in most life situations.
As everyone knows, our childhood is spent wanting to be older. And as the more ambitious and aspirational of you will know, it often doesn’t stop after teens but continues throughout every stage of life. At some point, the pointer tips the other way, and our desire turns to a longing to be younger. Whether it’s a different age, location or station in life that we desire, it seems to be a dissatisfaction, either big or small, with the current season that we are in.
When I was 16 and beginning to discover my desire to be a pastor and a preacher, I was disillusioned with visions of grandeur – of being a world class preacher, with a giant church and miracles following me everywhere – all within a few weeks. My latter teenage years were filled with the continual frustration of never being where I wanted to be – always looking away to a future where I was fulfilling all my dreams – and not understanding why I wasn’t fulfilling them now. This frustration could’ve been useful and productive if it spurred me on to study harder, to help people more, to seek advice more, yet I found it was detrimental, for it only discouraged me. Rather than preparing, I’d spend my time agonising over the ‘why nots’ and reasons that my dreams were not being actualised immediately.
Of course, I wasn’t completely stifled. Perhaps I exaggerate when I say “it only discouraged me” – but we all know what it is like to be distracted by the future and not focus on the present. And I found that day to day it wasn’t a problem, but there would be particular times, particular pressures, particular issues, that would bring out this behaviour.
After a good while my Pastor, Michael, sat me down and gave what has been one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received or even heard. It went like this:
Scott, you are in a season of preparation and planning for the future. Give yourself to the season.
I don’t even know if he knew the weight of what he’s said, but it rang true in my ears the moment those words left his lips, and instantly I had a change of mind.
Give yourself to the season. You are never a teenager at high school again – don’t wish those years away but enjoy the life with little responsibility. You are unlikely to be at college and university again, and certainly not again in the strength of your teens and early twenties – so maximise your studying, suck the marrow out of the educational environment you are in, thrive in learning. As my wife and I celebrated our fourth anniversary in June this year I was reminded again that the season of marriage without children will soon end, and we will no longer have the dexterity and flexibility of time to give to business, church and spare-of-the-moment whims.
I recently celebrated the first anniversary of Aaron+Gould, yet amidst the joy of successfully navigating a start-up in the midst of a recession, again there was the frustration of not being where I want the agency to be. Yes, it’s good to have vision, drive and a good sense of ambition, but my reminder to myself, despite how much I’ve learned about ‘faking it till you make it’, I have to tell myself to give myself to the season of start-up – not the season of award-winning agency.
Also, the advice wasn’t just enjoy the season or make it through the season; it was give yourself to it. Dedicate yourself to fulfilling the requirements, getting the right outcomes, to gain from this season what needs to be gained in order to move on the next one, and not have to waste time by returning to it.
As I said in starting, this is close to my heart, but this is only my experience over 25 years. I’m keen to know how you’ve found this to be true, if not, whether you disagree and why, and if you have any tips on giving yourself to the season.
Photo courtesy of ViaMoi