Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you will keep digging.” — Marcus Aurelius
I have a long list of daily affirmations — which, in full transparency, I have to admit I haven’t actually been saying daily. One of those affirmations is “I am able to find creative solutions to any problem.” Having this in my affirmations isn’t much of a stretch for me because I am a self-proclaimed world-class problem solver. I built my corporate career around being Ms. Fix It.
However, the affirmation serves as a reminder to keep my wits about me anytime I come across a difficult issue. It makes me ask myself “What else can I do?” or “How can I get to the outcome I want?” In other words, when it seems like all doors are closing for me, keep looking for a window (or an air duct, kick a hole in the wall, whatever it takes).
I never thought much of it until recently. A few weeks ago I was up against a tight deadline. I had a document I was preparing for Laura Lee Fellowship House that had to be postmarked by the end of the day. But I also had a full calendar with client meetings, doctor appointments, etc. I figured I’d still get everything worked out. What I didn’t account for was Mr. Murphy and his law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
At 4:15 I thought I had plenty of time to get it done. I leave my office to go to Laura Lee and make what seemed a gazillion copies. I walk outside to my car and couldn’t get in. After laying my purse and my portfolio on the light pole in the parking lot, I realized I left my car key and my office keys on the desk in my locked office. Frazzled, I call a couple of family members who happen to also have keys to my office. Then I realize I’m holding my phone, and I can use the car’s app to open my car, get the spare office key, then go back and get the car keys to be on my way.
At 4:20 I arrive at Laura Lee to make the copies. I look for the portfolio. It’s not on the passenger seat. It’s not in the back seat. I then realize that I must have left it on the light pole. So I zoom back to my office, find it in the same spot in the parking lot, and zoom back to Laura Lee to make copies.
At 4:30, I’m making copies, but the pages aren’t collating properly, so I need to figure out how to get them to collate so I won’t have to do it by hand. I eventually do, but they’re in reverse order, so I have to do it by hand.
At 4:40 the copier jams. I tell myself, “Keep pushing. It’s unlikely you’re going to make it to the post office by 5 p.m. But you won’t make it if you stop now. So keep pushing.”
At 4:50 All the copies are complete, but I still need to collate. “It doesn’t make sense, but keep pushing.”
At 5:05 I finish collating the pages, clean up the originals and the mess of extra/jammed pages. But the post office is closed. I call my mother (as much as I poke fun at her in this column, she’s actually resourceful … well, at least this time). She tells me to go to the back of the post office and try to mail it anyway.
I explain I don’t have an envelope, I haven’t paid for postage. But the voice in my head says, “Keep pushing.” I grab a used envelope so I can recycle it and devise a plan. I’ll go to Express Package to pay for the postage and then go to the post office.
At 5:10 I arrive at Express Package but they’re closed. Something says, “Keep pushing.” I check my wallet, I only have 4 stamps. I go to my office to grab some blank labels (to cover the label on the recycled envelope), then go back to Laura Lee to get more stamps.
At 5:25 I arrive at the post office and pull into the back lot. I’m feverishly writing in frazzled chicken scratch on the labels when an employee walks out. I jump out the car and explain that I have a package that needs to go out and that I have stamps.
She feels it and says it has to be metered because of its weight. I explain the need for a postmark today. She then tells me how many stamps to put on the package, offers to take it inside and meter it with credit for the stamps, and takes down my PO Box number so she can put the receipt in my box.
At 5:32 I leave the post office, triumphant, because I kept pushing.
What would you have, what could you do, if you decided to keep pushing? Keep pushing despite the rules, the obstacles, and even the voices that say, “You can’t do …”, “You shouldn’t …”, or “You don’t know how to …”
What would happen if you simply said, “Yes" and “Whatever it takes” and kept pushing?
Tricia D. Teague is a speaker, founder of The Trep School, and trained coach with the Coaches Training Institute. She can be reached at email@example.com. To schedule a free coaching session by going to www.thetrepschool.com/coaching