I was coming back to Winchester today on the old road. The ‘old road’ isn’t actually old, it’s a wide two lane road, but it’s not the fancy ‘new’ highway- so my family has always called it the old road. Traffic was slow and I thought it was an due to an overcautious U-haul ahead of us. I was starting to get frustrated and upset until I saw what the problem was: a tractor pulling two wagons of tobacco. Instantly- my heart softened and memories flooded back.
I grew up in a family that raised tobacco. There is a real expectation that when we approached this time of year – late August, early September – that life would revolve around getting the crop into the barn. It was ritual of sorts that held sacredness in our family. This time was filled with traditions, earthy smells and lots of hours spent with family and friends, on the wagon, in the barn or in the fields. Some of my best memories of childhood are wrapped up in these moments.
I knew what to expect during this time: hard work, long days, and cold Ale 8’s with lunch delivered by my Mom or Granny. These expectations were real and known.
Life and leadership seem a bit more complicated now. Expectations – the way you anticipate things should be – can mess with your life and leadership.
This past weekend, I reflected back on the the past 6 months and the changes, the hurts, pains, the victories and such that we have experienced as a family.
My expectations of how I anticipated things should and would be, have not been how they turned out. Sometimes life does not live up to your expectation. Sometimes situations, circumstances, leaders around you – or the way you lead yourself – does not meet your expectations.
What then? What happens when life circumstances, others or an organization do not meet your expectations? Do you throw you hands up and walk away? Do you stay and fight for the good and right thing?
Here is what I am trying to do to properly navigate expectations in life and leadership.
Find the the good and right principle that underlies the expectation. I need to find solid grounding in life and leadership.
Examine my heart and life to see if my expectations are out of line. If they are, then they need to be adjusted according to the grounding principles.
Name the places in my circumstances that are not mine to own. I will own what is my mine. My shoulders are wide enough for that. But I cannot bear that which is not mine. The grounding principles again will act as a guide… I am giving myself permission to say, “this is not my to own.” By doing this- it also calls out and invites others in my life to own what is theirs. Aligning your own heart often leads others into alignment.
If I can find the grounding principles, own what is mine to own, and lay down that which is not, I can navigate the expectations of life and leadership.
I know I am called to ‘adult’ and navigate well the expectations of life and leadership, yet I will not lie, I sometimes miss the barn, the long days, riding on the wagon, and being bone tired when I go to bed. I knew what to expect in those moments of housing tobacco. It was about showing up and working hard.
Life is broader now. I now have to navigate the expectations of life and leadership. The ability to just show up that I experienced those days on the farm were because someone else, primarily my Dad and Grandfather, were navigating the expectations of life and leadership. Their organic leadership allowed me to learn, to work, and to thrive on the farm.