“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
There is a famous old saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” My parents would always say this to me and I never fully understood what it meant until I was older. Essentially what that saying means is that important work takes time and it is necessary to be patient. When I found that out, I realized that with the amount of times my parents had said that to me I didn’t seem to really have much patience at all. In other words I lacked some serious self-management skills. I’m happy to say that for the most part I have improved in this area (at least I hope others think I have).
Winston Churchill’s quote reminds us that it take a long time to build solid relationships with others but all it takes is for us to lose self control with our emotions, thoughts or behaviors and it can destroy what took so long to built in a single blow. I see this happen all the time in the field of education. A child does well in school up to a certain point, has a bad experience one year and that destroys all that had been built over several years. This does not always have to be an encounter with another person. It can also happen within you and how you look at yourself. You might be a person who has low self esteem but over the course of a few years, positive experiences and praise that comes your way builds yourself up. Then all of a sudden when you get criticized by someone all those words of praise that you had accumulated over the past several years goes out the window just like that and its back to square one. Why is that?
I think what happens is that we get ourselves caught up in the moment and have a brief lapse in our judgment, where we have seemingly mismanaged our stress levels and lose control of our impulses and lash out at others or ourselves instead of recognizing that we are reaching our breaking point and stepping away from the situation. Often times after the big blow up happens we feel better because all of that pent up frustration has been released but at what cost? A friendship lost? Loss of respect for yourself?
The consequences can be as devastating as a natural disaster like a tornado or hurricane. The city of New Orleans in the state of Louisiana was discovered and established in 1718. It took over 275 years to build up this great city but in 2005 all it took was a few days for Hurricane Katrina to cause massive destruction and devastation. Today, 15 years later, the city still has not fully recovered and continues to rebuild.
We need to be mindful of our actions at all times. We put so much time and effort into our relationships with others and especially ourselves. When we feel ourselves reaching a certain level where we may regret what we say or do, it is time to take our own timeout and tap out of the situation to get our bearing on tings again. If we don’t, we may destroy everything we have worked so hard to build.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards managing yourself better?