Claiming Grace, Truth, and Patience in the New Year
Written By: Christy S. Renjilian
New year, new me.
I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before. And as corny as it may sound, the new year really does bring a time to reflect and make changes that will make us happier, more fulfilled people.
As I’ve reflected on what I want for myself and those around me in 2023, I kept coming back to three words: grace, truth, and patience.
What Does Grace Mean To You?
Grace means extending courtesy, compassion, respect, honor, and approval to someone (or yourself) regardless of whether or not you think they, their behavior, or the situation warrants such emotions.
Grace is not transactional –it isn’t something a person can earn. It’s a way of being in the world regardless of your particular circumstances, a mindset of acceptance and giving.
One quote that’s always stuck with me about grace is this:
“Grit determines that life challenges will neither defeat nor define us. Grace gives kindness to ourselves and others even when it’s hard.”
Now, if only it was as easy to extend grace to yourself as it is to just talk about it.
One area I always struggle to give myself grace is public speaking. It’s not an area I feel is my strength, and I am my own worst critic. I can close my eyes and relive the dreadful experiences of my failures at various points over the years.
But then one time when I was beating myself up about a presentation I thought should have gone better, someone asked me a question that changed my whole way of thinking.
“Would you treat a colleague this way and say to them what you say to yourself?”
Taking a step back, I realized that the answer was no. Of course, I wouldn’t speak to someone else the way I was talking to myself.
It’s so much easier to have grace for others, but we need to give it to ourselves too. We cannot expect perfection in every moment.
“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”
— Brené Brown
Professionally, extending grace comes with the territory. An office full of imperfect people is bound to make a few mistakes.
This reveals another area where grace needs to be the focus for both myself and others.
As a leader, I’ve related to the old adage “every success belongs to your team and every failure is yours.” It’s easy to blame myself for every minor setback or shortcoming in our organization.
But over the years I’ve learned that beating myself up provides no progress. Instead, I must focus on how the mistake can be corrected and learned from. And how we can create systems and processes in order to not make the same mistake again.
Reprimand is not necessary for the team member that actually made the mistake. They are likely beating themselves up, just like I would.
Instead, a leader must support and develop that individual through the mistake. And foster a culture where every team member feels confident to take risks, make mistakes, find solutions, and grow from their experience.
Seeking Truth in Personal and Professional Settings
Truth means you believe and share the facts about a situation. You are honest and forthcoming both with yourself and others.
Truth is being open in your words and actions. Speaking the truth isn’t always easy in the short term, but it’s better in the long run.
I believe in sharing all information, both good and bad, with all of my team members.
Some leaders operate from a “need to know” perspective, only telling each employee what they need to know to get their job done. Fostering a culture of secrecy instead of camaraderie.
I operate from a “why wouldn’t I tell you” perspective. I know I function better, and my decisions are better when I have lots of information, facts, and perspectives to inform me about all the options.
And I know that every single person that works with me can also do their job better with more information.
This leads to valuing transparency, even when that’s not the norm.
There is no place in a thriving workplace for people who are not truthful and open. Falsehoods, withholding information, and whispered secrets create toxic environments, resulting in poor decision-making. And in the long-term, it erodes relationships and culture.
Being honest in work relationships allows the opportunity to address issues promptly and prevent further problems from festering.
Valuing Time and Having Patience While Waiting
I don’t know about you, but I am not a patient person.
Waiting is hard for me. Always has been. And I have little tolerance for people who don’t respect and manage time well—those always tardy folks.
It’s a struggle and growing edge for me, to extend grace to those who have a different relationship with time than I do.
And waiting is a skill that is necessary not just for personal matters, but professional ones as well.
For example, CCC has a policy that emails must be responded to within 24 hours. Feeling the urge to be available and responsive, I try to respond to emails more quickly. Especially if the other person is waiting on me to respond in order to move forward with their work.
But not everyone has the same mindset. Some find it very difficult and distracting to always be checking their inbox.
They may only check it at certain points throughout the day, responding to all the emails at once.
This isn’t ideal for me, but if it helps others be more productive, I need to have the patience to wait for a reply.
I am also learning to have patience not just in the small things like emails, but in the big things—like funders releasing a Request for Proposals, providers taking the steps to improve their quality, or families being ready to move forward towards achieving their goals.
I have no control over the urgency and timetable of others. All I can do is make sure my team and I are ready to respond in a timely manner with all the support that is needed when those individuals are ready for it.
Taking a pause often helps with an impatient mindset. Before responding to someone, I take a minute and wait.
To sit with things and allow others to sit. To ponder and reflect. To ask more questions than I give answers.
Truth be told, some days this is a lot easier than others. Some days I think that there’s too much to do and my quick knee-jerk reaction gets the better of me.
But in every instance where I’ve prioritized a pause, the benefits are always worth that temporary discomfort.
My Most Important Piece of New Years Advice
We are conditioned to always have a goal, to determine “what’s next” in both our personal and professional life. To be busy, contributing, achieving, and growing.
These past several months I have worked hard at just being and not pressuring myself to do.
It’s been hard. I come from a long line of doers. You could say it’s in my blood.
Both of my grandmothers worked outside the home, as did my mom. And they all were very active volunteers in their communities and various organizations.
I can’t recall a time when I saw them just sitting, just being. And if by some miracle they were sitting after a long day at work or serving others or taking care of their families, they were still doing— knitting, quilting, sewing, making baskets. Always doing.
While I admire these matriarchal figures in my life in many ways, this is one place where I want my life to look different. I want to have value in being, not only value when I am doing.
As a society, we are very focused on what’s next.
We ask young children what they want to be when they grow up. We ask high schoolers what their plans are for a career and beyond.
When someone has been in their job for a while, we ask them what promotion or position they’re going after next. We ask young families when the next baby is due or when they’re moving to a bigger house
As if life is only about getting, achieving, doing, always more and more and more.
But there is so much joy and peace to be found in just being.
Being content with what you have.
Loving the people already around you.
And taking time to relax and enjoy life.
In 2023, I hope you give yourself permission to just be. To sit and do nothing. To look up at the stars and enjoy the beauty of your corner of the world. To reflect on your life and year with grace, gratitude, and joy.
Cheers to you — and to grace, truth, and patience.
About Community Connections for Children
Community Connections for Children (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic.
For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.
Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.
To learn more, visit cccforpa.org.