What You Can Look Forward to on the Other Side of Being Overwhelmed

The cliché: “Don’t bite off more than you can chew” is unhelpful because it is good for a leader’s development to occasionally do so.

The same is true with lifting weights. If you want your muscles to grow, you must lift heavier weight, and put your muscles under stress and pressure. If you lift the same amount of weight the same number of times, your muscles won’t grow, and you won’t get stronger. It takes extra stress on the muscles to cause them to grow. Of course there is such a thing as too much weight. Too much weight can cause serious injury, but more weight than you have lifted before is what will cause growth.

So the art of your own development is allowing yourself to be overwhelmed without being crushed. If you subject yourself to seasons of being overwhelmed and stretched, here are three things you can look forward to:

1. A new normal

Here is a typical scenario I see with great leaders on my team. They take on additional responsibilities and live with several months of what can feel like insurmountable pressure. They learn new disciplines, adapt their schedules, make adjustments to their leadership, and within a few months, they find a new normal. And they lead the new normal with …

2. Better developed skills

Extra pressure can put us in position to learn things we have not been forced to learn before. Taking on new responsibilities can force us to better steward our time. We don’t grow in our comfort zones.

3. More accomplished than previously imagined

With authors who have written books and with students who have gone back to school while still in their careers, I have often heard, “I have no idea how I got it all done.” When the task is complete, people look back and wonder where they squeezed the extra time. Not only were they able to accomplish more than they thought they would, but they are also now better prepared for the next season of being overwhelmed.

Of course those are the positive things to being overwhelmed. You can also expect feeling helpless, moments of wondering what you have gotten yourself into, and moments of feeling like a complete idiot—but push through those to get to the good stuff!