Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself

One of the many things I love about WordPress is that they provide this nifty site call The Daily Post . This is a site bloggers like myself can receive an extra shot of creativity from in order to consider new and different perspectives to use in blogging. I subscribe to it and receive a daily email that includes a brief question or description designed to spur an interesting topic to consider.

Yesterday’s email entitled “Apply Yourself” asked, “Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you”. This stood out to me from the many Daily Post mails I’ve collected as it sums up the entirety of 2012 for me.

I spent all of last year assigned to a new project for work that required me to lead a team of professionals in performing work I was not expert in (but they were) and report directly to a very important customer as being the role responsible for that team’s work. 2012 combined both the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been on with the most stress I’ve ever experienced. For a year. No joke – during work hours, weekends, and in my personal time I worked and worried over this assignment for the entire year.

In order to not only survive in the role and yet still produce quality work, I had to apply myself at a tempo and effort I’ve never known. For weeks at a time, I would work well beyond 12 hr days. Being home-based, it’s really saying something that I’d find myself wandering into our family room some weekend and realizing I’d not sat on my own sofa for days at a time. Television, news and surfing the net were things I simply gave up for small spurts. Once I would wrap up late at night, I’d simply not have the energy or the interest to stare at another glowing screen if I didn’t absolutely have to.

This wasn’t a case of losing myself to my work, it was truly a situation where if I did not put that much work into things, I would not be able to understand the work and thus lose the ability to oversee it. Once a task was needed, I’d not only have to train up on what needed to be done with a mentor or on my own, but then I’d also have to have a team do that work and ensure they did it correctly per timelines (and lead others without letting on that I was learning too). It was not the most desirable methodology, but at the time it was what was needed and I had to forge on.

When I look back on the last year, I feel an enormous sense of pride at what I accomplished and humbly accept the lessons learned as valuable experience to apply going forward. Truly, there were so many positive outcomes that resulted from working so hard at something I initially knew so little about. And while I hope I never have to work that hard for that long of a period of time ever again, if I do, I’ll remember this experience and know I’m capable of much more than I previously thought.

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