Sun, Oct 27, 2013
I spent Thursday of this week in training all day for work. I’d say we’re luckier than most in that we get trained not by a staff trainer, but by one of our leaders. He really cares about us and I really appreciate it. He’s also one of the most brutally honest people (next to my dad) that I’ve ever met. He’s not afraid to tell you what’s wrong with you. I’m not gonna lie, it hurts to hear what’s wrong with you. It hurts bad. But I figure he just says what everyone else thinks. So if I want to improve, I might as well grit my teeth and listen so that I can deal with all of my issues/faults/weaknesses/whatever you want to call them before they get worse. Let me just tell you, in every possible way this job requires the thickest of thick skin…and some serious introspection.
So on Thursday, he posed the question: What is your unfair advantage?
Before he explained I decided being female in this male-dominated profession was my unfair advantage. And on the surface, maybe it is. But his question goes much deeper than that…
He went on to explain “unfair advantage”. He asked “what is the one thing that God has so extravagantly gifted you with that it almost gives you an unfair advantage over everyone else?”
Wow. Good question.
Then he continues, “And what is the negative or drawback to that very same gift?”
I thought for less than 30 seconds. I knew the answer. It’s my self-discipline.
My self-discipline has definitely given me advantages and success in several areas of my life. But just as quickly as I recognized the gift, I recognized the draw back. I began to explain in front of the group (yes, it felt like group therapy) that my level of self-discipline made me seem rigid. Our leader interjected with the word “callous”. Ouch. Thanks. Keep in mind that he knows me. Double ouch. I went on to explain that it causes my expectations of others to be as high as the expectations I place on myself; which causes me to get irritated or angry at people who don’t behave like me, or like I expect them to behave. And then I shut up and just sat there with my head slightly hung as everyone was staring at me dreading their turn.
After closing his eyes and looking up for a few seconds, all our leader said was “grace”. I bet he said grace 10 times – like God was giving him the word to give to me. He told me to pray for grace – to give others grace. Grace. And then he moved on to the next person…
Grace. Grace has many definitions, but in the context of his instruction to me it means “a temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.”
God gives me grace from my sins every day; yet I’m not giving it to others. That’s not ok. And possibly even worse, I don’t even give grace to myself. I am so hard on myself, so critical of myself that I constantly beat myself up. How can I give grace to others if I can’t even learn to give it to myself? Goodness. Training just turned into psychotherapy! And I was the patient!
I’m not telling you this story because I have figured out since Thursday how to give myself and others grace. If I could fix personality flaws that quickly I’d set up shop and charge you guys a fortune! I’m telling you this story in case you’ve never been asked “What is your unfair advantage?” It’s a question worth asking, worth answering, and worth exploring past the obvious advantage it gives you.
We can only be our best selves when we are first, aware of our shortcomings, and second, willing to pray and work on them. We will never be flawless; we’re human. But no one can fault the person who continually strives to improve.
Never stop improving. Never.