Seeing Through the Clouds
Posted on 29 July 2018
It’s been a crazy week of rain on the East Coast. What started as much needed moisture amid a long, dry spell, turned into incessant flooding when the clouds refused to part. As in everything in life, there’s a lesson to be gained. One of the greatest things I’ve learned over the course of the past six months is that there is a difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self-esteem is confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-efficacy is the level of confidence in the knowledge, skills, and abilities one holds in their role. You can have a high level of self-respect yet be completely at a loss for how to deal with your current professional or personal environment.
What motivates us to keep pressing forward despite the clouds obscuring our view of the future we so desperately want? The answer is; keeping our eye on the final prize. When we do this, we know that even though trials and tribulations have blocked our physical line of sight, we do know what is on the other side. We know the clouds are just vapors that will surely dissipate; that they shift and move from over our heads to other places. Clouds aren't merely a nuisance from the brighter side of life. Clouds reveal something in us; what we hold dearest, and how intentional we are about making that happen.
The stronger one’s self-efficacy, the higher the goals we set for ourselves and the firmer our commitment to those goals. Findings across different lines of personality research show that people who have a high sense of perceived self-efficacy think, feel, and act differently from those who see themselves as inefficacious. These efficacious individuals possess the self-regulation to control their inner terrain in response to their outer environment. They quickly recover their sense of efficacy when the clouds come rolling in, as well as after failures or setbacks.
One of my favorite songs as a young girl was Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell. The poignant lyrics tell a story about how clouds can be so light and ethereal on one day, yet so overpowering and ominous on others. She writes, “So many things I would have done But clouds got in my way." The song is a potent metaphor for how we deal with change. As leaders, the only thing we can count on is change. One minute we can see the light of heaven itself, the next, we are drowning in calamity and tears. When we hold fast that this too shall pass, our regenerative or adaptive capacity allows us to metaphorically, as well as literally, be singing in the rain.
Just because you can’t see your end goal right now, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Don’t think because your desires are obscured, they’ve vanished. Respect yourself enough to know that you are meant to be in the position you are in. Realize that clouds come over every person’s head. Rejoice that your victory remains yours to claim no matter how overcast the future appears. The clouds of life are merely incidental reminders that no matter what comes over our heads, it is what’s inside that matters most and will always shine through.