Taking inspired action
"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
We may not always feel like everything we do is making some sort of difference in our own world and the world around us. Whether it's at work or at home, we may feel we are not getting the expected return on the time or energy we invested. Maybe it's a project that seems like it's not getting any traction. Or we may feel like we are not quite getting through to a colleague, friend or family member. We may ask ourselves, "Am I just wasting my time here?"
I have come to realize that nothing we do is a waste of time unless we choose to see it that way. While working with at-risk young adults in a transitional housing program for more than a year, there were many times I felt I was not getting through to them. I felt like I was doing something wrong or missing an important piece of the process. Not only did I feel I was of no help to them, I felt like I was failing as a case manager. The program manager even warned me that we were working with a tough population and that change usually happens very incrementally, and we may not see change with many of the clients we work with.
I remember a sign he had in his office that stated, "The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit." I knew what it meant, but I always felt it was intended for the clients. Now as I reflect on that message, I realize how much it was also meant for me, and all of us really. We do not always see the fruits of our labor, but that does not necessarily mean that nothing bloomed or blossomed. And there is always something we can learn from the experience. My manager did tell me how he had former clients return to tell him how they were now happily married, in a career they enjoyed, while living in a place they pay for, all on their own. The seeds he had planted eventually bore some delicious fruit.
I did see one of my former clients recently. He is living in his own apartment with a great full-time job that he likes. He knows it's not his career choice, but he's 21. He'll get there. For the time being, he's just planting his seeds. It's funny. I always thought I would be the one inspiring my clients, but now I see how much they have inspired me to keep doing my part and planting my seeds. We may never know what they all will grow into, but that should not prevent us from taking inspired action to see what may come of them.