Willingness to Do the Hard Thing – Part 2

Willingness to Do the Hard Thing – Part 2

Sometimes the hard thing comes in very mundane situations. For example you are in the midst of trying to get something done that you have kept putting off. Then you get a phone call from a close friend or family member. They are in a bad place and they want to talk. Do you continue to try working while sort of listening but continually wishing they would say good bye? Or do you set aside your work and give them your wholehearted attention? When they hang up and the thought comes to you to consider doing something more; like going to keep them company or bringing something to cheer them up, do you ignore that thought telling yourself you are too busy? Or do you respond to it by doing an act of kindness? These are major hard things or so they seem at the time. However when we miss the opportunity and reflect upon it later we realize how we blew it. We need to grow in awareness when we are passing up a key opportunity to deepen an important relationship. They don’t often come at times that are convenient. That is why we need to heighten ourselves to greater sensitivity to those moments so we can rise above our emotions that want us to ignore someone else’s problem and focus on our task at hand. This is especially challenging for those personality types like Dominant Directors and Cautious Thinkers who tend to be more task oriented. They need to find ways to curb their natural inclination and step back and recognize the importance of their relationships. If we compared the value of what seemed to be so important to the value of the relationship, we would be appalled at our short sightedness. That relationship investment will pay dividends for years to come. That seemingly important task will be long forgotten.
In Evansing there is an incident already noted in chapter 8 which I am repeating here to spell this out further:
“Edwin! You are going to have to focus more time on the wedding preparations. I have done most of it already, but there are some things you and I need to discuss. Besides I want it to be us deciding not just me. We can decide together on your outfit. What are you doing this afternoon?’
‘Well I had this afternoon free, but Percival and I have just received some news about the Druid we’ve been looking for. We need to meet with your father and discuss a plan of action.’
‘Hmm, it figures. You know sometimes you have to put us first.’
‘Greer, this is a matter of top state security. What would your father think if I were to miss this meeting to go check out a wedding outfit?’
‘I don’t care what he would think. There will always be something which has to be attended to. This wedding has to hit the top of your priority list or else there won’t be a wedding.”
Hard things in marriage are often overlooked. An outsider would consider it as hilarious or tragic sometimes as to what we consider too unimportant to invest an extra few minutes of effort to accomplish. Unfortunately those things we neglect can often create cracks in the relationship so that when something really difficult shows up the relationship can’t handle the extra weight. In other words there were no regular deposits in the emotional bank account to offset the withdrawals. This has often resulted in a spouse leaving a marriage when everything appeared to be okay. The spouse being left behind can often be bewildered at what to them has been totally unexpected.
In parenting doing the hard thing could involve incorporating a meaningful discipline even though it makes us unpopular with our children. It is so easy to get caught up with wanting to be popular with our children. It is a temptation that needs to be resisted. After all we are their parent not simply their friend. We have a responsibility to ensure our children become responsible and successful adults with all their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual capacities intact. As ancient wisdom says, “Train a child in the way he (she) should go and when he (she) is old he (she) will not depart from it.”
In business there are many opportunities to do the hard thing. If we postpone letting someone go because we don’t want to be the “bad guy” then we are foregoing our responsibility. We don’t benefit our business or them to allow them to continue in a position that is not suited to their genius. We can still be compassionate and assist them in whatever way is appropriate to get new employment. In Europe there have been instances where governments did not raise the possibility of cutting wages and pension benefits for fear of creating an unpopular backlash. They maintained the status quo and allowed the fiscal morass to get ever larger and more intractable. Now those countries are stretched to their max as to how they are going to finance even the basics of what their citizens expect to be provided. Both the business and the government examples demonstrate the perils of making decisions with only the short-term being considered. Truly wise decisions also consider the long-term. A person’s life reflects the quality of their decisions made with the long-term in view. Steven Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of the Highly Effective Person” describes this as making a decision with the end in mind.

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Willingness to do the Hard Thing – Part 1 (excerpt from Unlimited – Anything is Possible)

Willingness to do the Hard Thing – Part 1 (excerpt from Unlimited – Anything is Possible)

A willingness to do the hard thing will set you apart from the average person. As well it will result in you accomplishing things that others tend to avoid. In Evansing, Edwin faced difficult decisions concerning what he felt needed to be shared with King Erith. One of these was when he was convinced Evansing and its allies needed to retreat instead of continuing to do battle.

“Edwin decided he could not wait any longer.

‘Sire, may I please talk to you in private for a moment?’

Erith looked quizzically at Edwin and nodded yes. They then both stepped away from the others some distance so as to not be overheard.

‘Sire, a strong impression came to me about the time you called for a meeting. This impression indicates there has been a shift in the seasons. As you know we have been very much in a charge and advance mode for some time now to unite Ireland. We have used both military and diplomatic maneuverings to achieve that objective. There has been significant success to date. The impression I got most definitely indicated we are now in a consolidate and hold season. As unpalatable as this may seem to you, Sire, I agree with the proposal made to retreat.’

‘Traitor, you are an ungrateful traitor. How could you side with someone who wants to retreat?’ replied Erith.

The vehemence of the response took Edwin by surprise. He had expected a strong negative reaction but not this strong. He could feel a wave come over him as Erith spoke to him. Struggling to maintain his composure, Edwin remained silent for a moment.

‘So do you have anything to say for yourself, Edwin?’ demanded Erith.

‘Sire, this is not based on me deciding all of a sudden we should retreat.’ Edwin’s voice got stronger and indeed firmer as he went. ‘This came upon me on its own. It’s not an attitude I had been harboring beforehand. One moment I am flat out in charge and advance mode. And the next I am getting this strong impression the times had changed. Percival and I have had discussions about the timing of things. About how there are different seasons in life. To do what may be an excellent thing in the wrong season can be disastrous. If we are no longer in a time for us to continue the active pursuit of the uniting of Ireland, then it is time to stop. It is as simple as that. I too am much disappointed by this turn of events.’

Erith had started to calm down, but he remained quite distressed as to what he heard. This dream to unite Ireland had totally possessed him. To now come to the realization it should be put on hold, even for a while, almost devastated Erith. He continued to glare at Edwin but remained silent. Edwin could tell Erith started to come to some sort of terms with what he had heard. At least Erith’s glare had noticeably softened.”

As can be seen above, sharing sensitive information with a superior can be difficult if it is known that it will not be well received. However these are the moments, although fraught with risk, which can represent great opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to whatever organization you belong to. As well often times the person who initially gets upset at receiving unwelcome news may end up respecting the person who shared it. This is because they recognize it was done from a place of integrity and duty.

Winston Churchill seemed to savor the opportunity of looking for difficult assignments. During the Boer War in South Africa he signed on as a journalist to cover the conflict. He ended up being captured after leading the defense of a train being attacked and captured by the Boers. Subsequently he escaped and was wanted dead or alive by the Boers. Then he returned to South Africa to eventually become an officer in a South African cavalry unit and displayed further heroics. Before the Boer War when Churchill had run for political office he had lost. Now as a returning hero he was given the winning election that was previously denied to him. All those hard things he had endured now seemed of no consequence. They launched him to the stratosphere of political office.

A major benefit of doing the hard thing is it builds inner strength. Consequently when we meet difficult challenges in the future we have a new reserve of courage and confidence in handling it. This creates greater ease and higher levels of excellence due to a superior state of mind as we stay calm in the midst of doing what needs to be done.  It also develops the discipline for making right choices based on what will produce the best possible outcome, not on simply doing what is easy and expedient. Dennis Waitley in his CD series “Psychology of Winning” quoted the following: “Winners make decisions based on goal achieving rather than tension relieving.”

May you have the willingness to do the hard thing that will advance your life for the long-term, not simply make you feel good in the short-term.












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Joy – Part 1 (excerpt from Unlimited – Anything is Possible)

Joy – Part 1 (excerpt from Unlimited – Anything is Possible)

Joy is an emotion that we all desire to have as a dominant state but it often eludes us because of life’s circumstances that interfere. It doesn’t have to be that way.  We can take control over our joy. We don’t have to wait until it just comes on us.

First, we need to know why it is important to us and therefore why it is essential for us to make an effort to maintain joy as our normal state or as I heard one speaker say, “Joy is meant to be our default setting.” Joy has a great therapeutic effect on our bodies, minds and of course on our emotions. We are physically, mentally and emotionally healthier when we are in a state of joy. I don’t mean it has to be some ecstatic state, it can be subtle yet it is there, a strong sense of well-being which can be characterized as joy. Joy enhances the function of our physical bodies and our minds function at a sharper level. When we are joyful we are easier to be around and our relationships flourish. When we are joyful we perform our work at a higher level with greater creativity and greater attention to detail.

What is a key to joy? Passion about life is a key to joy. Read the interchange between Greer, Princess of Evansing and Kerris, Crown Prince of Alder:

“So tell me what makes you think you would be good for Athandra? I need to tell you right now she has a zest for life, which could shake your world. She is a rather unusual girl in the degree and wide range of things she feels passionate about. So if you want to connect with her you will need to grow in your capacity to be passionate, first and foremost about her and also about life. She loves life. Even though life can be difficult, there needs to be a mindset of embracing difficulties as times of growth. They force out or at least if we allow them to do so, force out to the surface the true self existing deep within us. Passion requires our true self to be visible and engaged with the world.’

Kerris looked amazed at this young woman not much more than a girl who shared this truth he knew to be great wisdom. ‘Wow if I can tap into being consistently passionate there is nothing I can’t do and I know that my life will shift from being a bore to being a joy. So how do I get there? How do I become this focused lover of life?”

Subsequently Kerris is introduced to Percival who helps him identify a major reason for his lack of passion:

“That evening in Kerris’ quarters the two men talked about various things Kerris remembered from his childhood. They seemed to have an adverse effect on his capacity to enjoy relationships and life in general. One of the things which seemed to come up as a big issue concerned the matter of performance. All his life Kerris had been rated on the basis of how he did things. Seldom did he feel like anyone celebrated him for being Kerris, beautiful just for being here and alive. He felt like being the perfect Crown Prince was all that mattered to people.”

Getting off of the performance treadmill is not easy if that is where you have been for a long time, but it is essential for a true sense of well-being. We all need to know we have value apart from what we do. If we don’t, everything in life is just another part of the pressure to perform. It will exhaust and drain our souls of any capacity to be passionate about life. There needs to be a simple joy in just being who we are.

One insight that recently came to me was how every aspect of our current lives are an integral part of our lives and are meant to be embraced as meaningful and related to as having redeeming properties which make them valuable. When we do this it shifts our perspective from considering certain activities as a waste of time or simply as an irritation to be endured, to one where we appreciate each role in our lives as an essential element and therefore to be embraced and enjoyed. As a result we will have a greater level of focus on the task at hand. This then leads to at least some element of passion which increases our performance level and ability to enjoy even the most mundane of activities.

Another motivation to be joyful comes from recognizing we are not an island. We impact people whether it is at Starbucks while purchasing a coffee from an employee or whether we are in our most intimate moments with those we love. We can make a difference for better or for worse simply by the level of joy or lack of it in our lives. Joy can make a measurable difference to the people we encounter. We can leave a deposit of positive energy that encourages and fuels someone else’s day and perhaps even their life. We don’t recognize how powerful we are for good or for evil in the lives of others. We need to grow in awareness of toxic thoughts. Toxic thoughts could be simply defined as those that do not encourage joy. Focusing on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy will go a long way toward fostering our joy. Another way to view the power of joy is to envision how you want people to remember you. Joy is a powerful building block for a positive legacy. The joy people experienced when they were around you will stay in their memories for a life time. I know for me I had two grandmothers who both died when I was six years old. I also had a step grandfather who died when I was eighteen. I fondly remember him and one of the grandmothers because there was a joy in the relating with them. They demonstrated genuine joy in being with me. They left a positive legacy in me. It enhanced my self-esteem knowing such vital people really cared for me and showed it. They probably didn’t always feel good and perhaps they didn’t always relate to me in a positive way, but I don’t remember any actions by them not positive toward me. I choose to believe they made an effort to be joyful in their demeanor when they were with me. Consequently they left an indelible imprint of good in my life.

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