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539. Don't Give Up. June 2, 2024

Updated: Jun 5



Life is meant to present challenges. How else do we exercise faith and trust? What are our means of becoming mentally stronger, wiser, more knowledgeable, and more discerning?  A challenge is an invitation to a trial. Although, in many cases, it's more of a demand to get involved. Challenges teach us about our strengths and the reasons for our failures—about why we manage to overcome some things and yet run from others. 

Consider this scenario: a friend of mine, only months out of prison, recently faced a significant challenge. Maybe you'll be able to relate. He got a much-needed factory production job, only to leave it two days later. The 'why' is the crux of the matter.

The job entailed quickly learning the eight models in production, each with its own set of differences, and making framework to fit. He was given a brief induction into the processes but needed help grasping them. 

As a former production supervisor and manager, I wouldn't have expected reasonable competency for a couple of weeks. Yet, he put unnecessary pressure on himself, and his mind took over. After making a few mistakes and asking annoyed fellow workers for small helps—you know, to check if he was doing it right, he began the downward spiral of self-criticism. The more he criticised himself, the greater the mistakes he made. 

Two days was all he could take. He mistook the boss's looks for condemnation and his co-workers grunts for disapproval instead of them being pushed for time themselves.This is merely called being dropped in the deep end. Every organisation drop people in the deep end, and many workers learn to sink or swim.  I have been dropped in the deep end more than I care to recall, and the last thing one needs is their mind becoming the traitor—telling us that people are looking, we're not getting it, the boss is angry, and the other workers are sick of us. It's important to remember that mistakes are part of the learning process, and self-compassion is vital to overcoming them. 

I wish we had spoken before his resignation. I would have encouraged him to tough it out. I made many mistakes in the first few days of my first job after prison. My mind played the same tricks on me. I remember drilling holes where they shouldn't have been, cutting sheets of expensive material too short to be used, and accidentally denting other products. I was so embarrassed. If it wasn't a recession, I may have left the company through shame. But thankfully, I got past the humiliation stage. Within a few weeks, I was promoted to supervisor of a fifteen-strong team incorporating five sub-departments. 

It's worth pushing through these types of challenges. It may only be pride causing the embarrassment, and that's not worth losing a job or anything else. 


Dear Lord, thank you for placing me in a pressure cooker so many times, causing me to wrestle inwardly against a raft of weaknesses. I still have plenty, but I have sorted many out.

Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg


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