Our poorest days help us appreciate our best ones.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to watch my mother cook a large pot of soup for my kids and me while my wife was out of town visiting friends. Always the creative cook, my mother essentially concocted a vegetable soup out of a motley assortment of aging-but-good vegetables, leftovers, and other ingredients scavenged from our pantry and refrigerator.
It was excellent. It was creative. The kids even liked it.
But, something she said to me while cooking it struck a nerve for me.
As she combined ingredients that I suspect I and many of my contemporaries would not have envisioned as fitting together (the soup included approximately 5 different kinds of beans, but wasn’t a bean soup, folks…) she looked up at me and said:
“You only appreciate this kind of soup after living through some poor days.”
While we both chuckled at the comment, it had the weight of reality. I won’t go into gory detail, but will say that the poor days referenced were real, and that yes, they do make you appreciate even the little creative things in life.
And, I think there’s a lesson in that for all of us.
We all have poor days. Yours might not be financially poor days, but they might be emotionally poor, spiritually poor, or poor in other ways. Maybe bad weather is as poor as you have ever experienced, but you’ve still experienced it.
In our professional lives, we have days where people let us down.
Days where customers call in angry.
Days where our boss or our board doesn’t get it.
Days where people are hurt on the job on our watch.
Days where we have to fire people, or we get fired.
Days where sales aren’t where they need to be, and neither are margins.
Days where it’s time to shut the whole operation down…and we do.
In other words, we live through poor days…All of us. Still, the poor days can lend rich experience. They can enhance your sense of goodness, and your sense of performance.
When I sit and think about the best days I’ve had as a professional, I know for a fact that they were the best days because I went through some bad days to get there.
Just as I wouldn’t appreciate the taste of my mother’s soup if I didn’t understand the creativity–borne out of a few episodes of deep necessity–that brought it to life, we all have to use our poor days to improve our ability to perceive our best days.
I don’t (and won’t) go so far as to say poor days are a blessing. I will say that the experience and perspective poor days provide very much is.
Now, it’s your turn… If you’ve made it this far, take a moment to leave your mark here by leaving a comment. What do you think?