As I listened to an individual describe their situation, I struggled to find a reasonable question or two that would trigger a reflection within on what was working, what was not working, and what might be missing. The individual was very bright. There was confidence in the air, perhaps too much. Everything was there, except for a singular element – openness.
As we spoke I began to see a picture of myself in the mirror. In my mind’s eye, I was young, but then again it is common to see one’s self younger than one really is. I remember the feeling of being sure, very sure. I knew the answer. I had wrestled with the facts, understood the alternatives, and drawn a conclusion. I was sure of what I was sure about. In a nutshell, I was confident, perhaps too confident.
Looking back, I am sure there were wisdom guardians trying to help me. I suspect that each was struggling with what I was struggling with today. What can I say that encourages and yet challenges? Is there a way of breaking through the confidence wall without destroying it?
Life has taught me that confidence is never enough. There is always more! If one can see two options, try looking for the third before taking a decision. If I could suggest a different approach, it would be along the following lines.
Agree on the ideal. Think of a perfect world and experiment with what it is like to be there.
Celebrate what has worked. Look, reflect, and remember. One may have missed something. Take David’s counsel to heart no matter how small the success might be; “He converted sea to dry land; travelers crossed the river on foot. Now isn’t that cause for a song?” (Psalm 66.6)
Use the energy and momentum of what is working to fills in the gaps for what is missing. There may not be any mistakes, just opportunities for more. Use the initial celebration as a foundation for the courage to pursue what is missing.
Life is a work in progress.