I recently received an email from a students talking about how challenges in leadership in a certain student group is decreasing motivation, causing confusion, and basically lowering morale. She was concerned that the whole student group would collapse. In her email to me, she wrote that she had two options. They were to quit or ignore the issues and grind through it. I mentioned she got two out of three options. The third one that she didn’t mention is the toughest to do and it is the most successful. Let’s take a look at the options individually.
Option 1 — Quit. Quitting is simple. You stop participating. You stop working. You see no point in moving forward and just give up. In a job, there are several reasons people quit. Most of us feel if we quit, the group, employees, or organization will miss us. The fact is they won’t. You become an addition to the challenge when you quit because you are removing one more potential solution.
Option 2 — Ignore the Issues and Grind Through It. This option can work in the short term and it will cause more problems down the road. It will likely end up in the previous option of quitting. Ignoring the issues is also an easy option that requires little or no work. How much effort does it take to ignore something. That story will change if things in your work or school environment continue to challenge you in negative ways. Ignoring things will chip away at your motivation and eventually you will burn out. Then you revert to quitting. Sometimes this options is worse that quitting. When you ignore things, you usually end up voicing your concerns in negative ways to your colleagues. This will cause a toxic environment that will fester until productivity falls. Eventually the business or group will take a huge hit. Quitting actually works better for the business in these cases.
Option 3 — Find Opportunities in the Challenge and Work Things Out. The third option you have is the one most people avoid simply because it is hard to do. This option requires hard work and being humble. This option is the most successful for you and the group. It requires people to problem solve with a challenger who doesn’t see things the same way they do. If you choose this option, you will have to see things from someone else’s lense. With option 3, you have to set aside your ego and be humble. You have to approach your problem in a different way. It is difficult. It is not fun. It works.
I see students in high school faced with challenges every day. That’s learning. Learning is challenging. Learning is not always fun. Learning comes from failure. In high school, I see a lot of students in the first and second option. Some students quit, many don’t voice their concerns or challenges and grind through school. It is the rare student who chooses to find opportunities in their challenges in school and work it out by problem solving. Social emotional learning takes a huge role in teaching students how to face a challenge and find the opportunity. Students need to understand that life is not easy and challenges are at every corner. Let’s teach them these three options. Let’s teach them to go for the third option.