Treading water I look something like a drowning dog.  I flail around trying to do that egg beater thing with my legs and doggy paddle like I’m trying not to die (which is true).  I can sort of keep my head up, but not really.  I have to put my head way back to keep my nose out of the water.  

Don’t we all feel like that when our responsibilities require more than we can give–at risk, nearly drowning, not looking or feeling very pretty?  How could anyone feel confident in a situation like that?  It takes a fearless leader to not quit when things get tough, so tough that smooth and beautiful is no longer an option.  Survival is what it is all about.

It Isn’t Pretty

Dennis Prager, quoted in Over the Top, by Zig Ziglar points out:

“The way people cling to the belief that a fun-filled, pain-free life equals happiness actually diminishes their chances of ever attaining real happiness.  If fun and pleasure equated with happiness, then pain must be equated with unhappiness, but in fact the opposite is true.  More times than not, things that lead to happiness involve some pain.”  

Zig Ziglar says that “happiness is not pleasure.  It is victory.  And victory almost always involves at least temporary pain of some kind.”  

If I am the leader and things go wrong, which they always do at times, it isn’t going to be pretty.  But, it is also an opportunity for victory!  

A bad job is better than no job

frog-1339892_640When our ability falls below our own standards, it can be ridiculously hard to not quit trying.  It can be downright embarrassing to claim the role that is ours.  We know what appropriate standards should be.  The clash between reasonable standards and reality would distress anyone.  No one likes to fail.

But poorly struggling along is not necessarily failure.  It feels like drowning, but it isn’t.  Like someone who is in the hospital that is unconscious is not the same as dead, when there is breath and a heartbeat, there is hope.  

If you are functioning in a role that you can not manage, but there is no one else better to manage it, you sticking to your efforts, no matter how substandard, may be enough to keep the entire company or family afloat.  

I’m not suggesting that we should not get help or solve problems.  But, there are times of real crisis when a warm body is so much better than nobody.  It could be crucial that you don’t quit.


A healthy company has some redundancy so that if one person gets sick, leaves on a vacation, or dies, the whole company is not so overly dependent on that one person that the whole company goes under.  Healthy families are the same way with two parents and extended family that can help protect children.  

But in real life, there are many companies and many families that are not so safely structured.  A small company doesn’t have enough coverage if two or three players get simultaneously affected.  A family with many or young children can not function without one or both parents indefinitely without someone stepping in.  In any case, the work to be done can overwhelm those who can do it no matter how many people are involved.  

The fact is, you may be irreplaceable.  I’m not talking about your role.  I am an adoptive mom.  I have the role responsibility that another mother was unable to carry.  Your role is re-fillable, but it may not be in time to save the family or the company. 

In our families, each person is unique and not replaceable.  No one else can be you for them.  No one.


pool-690034_640There is no reason to beat yourself up with comparisons to excellence when you are just keeping your nose out of the water.  There will be other times to swim, look beautiful and enjoy relaxing on the beach.  Now just may not be that season. Your team is depending on you.  Your best has to be good enough.  

Inspired by a friend who has many young children, a baby who nearly died in childbirth, and is struggling to recover herself from complications, I remembered that time in my life when the goal was simply to keep us all alive for another day.  I wrote a poem for her and to all people who courageously carry on when the ongoing responsibilities are, really, too much:

“I Want My Mommy”

“Momma, Momma!”

I look down and see

Trusting, beautiful eyes

Looking right into me.


“Momma, Momma!”

I look down and feel

A chorus of expectant mouths

Waiting to be filled.


“Momma, Momma!”

I look down and know

They need so much more

Than I, so


model-956676_640“Momma, Momma!”

They bang on my door

While I cry, too

And fall to the floor.


“I want my Mommy!”

I say through my tears

The fears all compounding

Will this really last for years?


“I’m empty.” I tell Him.

“They need so much more.”

“You’re enough.” He assures,

Scrapes me up off the floor.


“But I can’t do it.  I mean it!

I feel so alone.

The house is a disaster

All the help has gone home.


It isn’t good enough.

I know it.  I’m sure.

I haven’t the courage.

I can’t possibly endure.”


“You’re enough.” He assures me

As I start to beg

For a break or a trip

To the funny farm instead.


“You’re enough.” He still comforts

As I start to calm down

I put my chin up

And fight back my frown.

“I’m it!” I announce

As I throw open the door

And they all rush in

Like the tide on the seashore.


“Momma, Momma,” they call

Like an eternal, pulsing wave.

Thank the Lord

He made mothers

Self Improvement- To read more of DarEll's articles, click here.

Self Improvement- To read more of DarEll’s articles, click here.

So exceedingly brave.



May you have the courage of a mother and never quit trying.  


DarEll S. Hoskisson


About DarEll Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: and

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