Be the Dandelion: Finding Opportunity

Resiliency is a dandelion that gets mowed down or trampled into the lawn and then grows happily back, time and again reaching for the sun. We all have different levels of tolerance for being mowed down or trampled and different reasons to continuing to get up again. But what is it that makes us able to be resilient?

The start of another fiscal year for the federal government is approaching quickly. It is a reminder of just how difficult it is to be an employee of the federal government. A reminder of just how hard it is to make do with limited resources, and continue to accomplish goals. Will the budget be passed in time? Will there be another shutdown? Will workers have to dig into savings again while waiting at home to hear they can go back to their jobs? And will the innovation and perseverance of those doing the work allow them to get the work done anyway?

The challenges faced by public servants are many. These challenges are not just in their jobs. Each person has a unique story. One peppered with personal struggles that may be hidden. Successful people are able to push past difficulty, even use the struggle for motivation to overcome it.

Being resilient is not always easy. Unlike dandelions, people must learn and practice to get it right:

  1. Like an endurance athlete, we must train.
  2. Like a warrior, we must have a reason to fight, something to protect.
  3. Like an artist, we must pursue a passion for something that brings happiness to ourselves and our audience.
  4. And like a family, we must surround ourselves with others who support and care for us.

Whatever your challenge and whatever your tolerance for handling it, a continuous fight can be draining. Practicing resiliency can make it easier. Whatever your reason to go on, your family, a drive to exceed goals, to help others, or your passion for creating, resiliency will allow you to move past those things that knock you down so you can get up and accomplish what even you might not have known was possible.

The way you approach difficulty can shape your life. In a dandelion you can choose to see a weed that must be removed, or you can see what will become the symbol of a wish blown into the wind or just some delicious greens for your salad. There is a great power in seeing difficulty and challenge as an opportunity.

How do you practice resilience and how do you encourage your team to try again when they experience setbacks in their work or their personal life?

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Daniel Augustine Brilliant

I think the bigger question is, “Why are innovators getting mowed down and trampled so much?” If you treat innovators that way it is only a matter of time till you loose or burn out your innovators, if you can even acquire them at all. There is a wide variety of flowers, much nicer than dandelions, which can’t survive in a lawn because it is such a hostile environment. If growing flowers is really the goal then we should stop cultivating grass and mowing down the flowers!

Amber Hansen

Hi Levi, I did mean “Being resilient is NOT always easy”. thanks for pointing that out. I fixed it.

Hi Daniel, you are so right.

Thanks to you both for commenting!

Ron Crabtree

Amber is absolutely correct. However, this is “the natural state of things” in the private sector. No guarantees and little security. But these expectations have become just false expectations that were part of the Post World War ll boom and innocuous influence of socialism that was popular in the 40’s and 50’s.

Most people that I know who went into government service were looking for security and benefits. No problem there. But that has gone by the wayside in the name of efficiency and technology. Those same factors hit the private sector decades ago and has changed the perception of the meaning of a “career.” Indeed, most people will have multiple careers during their lifetime. While this can be very disconcerting to most people, more and more, being an employee is just a step in becoming a successful independent contractor.

Once a young employee with expectations gets bumped out of a job, it becomes apparent that the modern lifestyle expectations can disappear in a heartbeat. Indeed, it can mean losing a home, health insurance, a marriage and self-esteem. But from an existential point of view, this can be a good thing as we learn that materialism and the professional image are hollow and don’t make you who you are. Indeed, it forces a much more entrepreneurial attitude of using the system to springboard to freedom from the tyranny of being an employee dependent on filling a box in the organization chart.