Category Archives: How do you define success?
“Hope is a beggar.” —Jim Carrey
Now take a moment to place yourself in a state of Faith. Think that everything around you is exactly as it should be for you to build toward what is next. How do you feel?
Hope says: “What’s happening now is not good enough.”
Faith tells you: “What’s happening now is exactly right.”
Hope is unfulfilled yearning. Faith is purposeful acceptance.
In Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Jim Collins writes about the Stockdale Paradox. The name comes from Jim Stockdale, who survived eight years in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp. Admiral Stockdale made it home, but many didn’t. When asked, who didn’t make it back he replied, “Oh, that’s easy. The optimists.”
The ones who looked to hope to solve their problems, the people who did not face the brutal facts of their reality didn’t make it. Stockdale said:
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Hope sees only that which is unfulfilled. Faith accepts the now as leading to the best “what’s next.”
May you have a faith-filled day.
Last week I wrote about a meeting with a group of people who have to make a difficult decision. The facilitator asked everyone to consider the costs and benefits of saying “YES” and the costs and benefits of saying “NO.”
The group considered financial repercussions, the effect on personal relationships and the overall societal implications—the usual stuff. When listing the benefits of saying “NO” one group spoke up with: “If we say no, we won’t have to face our fears.”
People nodded. True. So true. The status quo—the comfort zone—is very appealing. The people in the room agreed that saying “NO” would, in many ways, make life a little easier.
But it only took a second or two before there was a reflective pause and a murmur. “Wait a minute,” the murmur said. “Not facing fears would also be a cost.”
We realized that not facing fears is an ingredient in recipes for stagnation, disappointment, dissatisfaction, guilt, depression, anger and lots of other unpleasant aspects of life.
It’s not the easy choice. It’s not the comfortable choice. But sometimes it’s a whole lot of fun, and it’s better than getting stuck between the cracks of life.
Yesterday I took part in a meeting with a group of people who have to make a difficult decision. It is the kind of decision that touches people in a deep place, so we know that no matter what the result will create some uneasiness.
The facilitator for the group asked us to consider this: If we say “YES,” what are the benefits of that decision? If we say “YES,” what are the costs of that decision?
I have an opinion on the matter, so I knew that listing the benefits would be a breeze. Easy-peasy. No problem. But I thought I would struggle with pointing out the costs. I was wrong. I was surprised by how readily I was able to come up with both costs and benefits.
We were also asked to look at the situation from the “NO” side. If we say “NO,” what are the benefits of that decision? If we say “NO,” what are the costs of that decision?
Again, both costs and benefits came easily to mind. I didn’t have to dig around in the recesses of my mind to find them. I didn’t have to struggle with them or make something up. Both sides of the issue were ready for plucking off the surface of my brain once I chose to look for them.
I was surprised by how up close and personal my relationship with the other side of the issue was.
I realized that I had already, subconsciously or unconsciously, weighed the costs and benefits. I had arrived at an opinion having considered the costs but seeing the benefits as more important, on balance.
It made me wonder, how many people hold strong opinions on a matter without any awareness of how up close and personal they are, or have been, with the other side of the issue?
A few little things went wrong in my life this weekend. Nothing major. Just petty little annoyances.
It was gorgeous and sunny in Ottawa, but I felt yucky and didn’t want to move from the couch. Our friend’s dog that we were looking after for the weekend caught a nail on our heating grate, hurt his paw and bled all over our kitchen floor. (You can imagine how awful we felt about that.) And the curling team that I was pulling for at the Tim Horton’s Brier didn’t win. (Brad Gushue, you were so close.)
Little things added up until I collapsed on the couch and said, “You know what? I’ve had better days.”
Sometimes it’s difficult to be at peace with minor inconveniences. It’s an even greater challenge to accept major upsets that come along. Sometimes it’s even a challenge to allow ourselves to savour fun events or people that crop up on our life paths.
We spend so much time evaluating whether something is “good” or “bad” we never arrive at accepting what is. And appearances can be deceiving. Events that appear catastrophic at first glance often lead to unforeseen good fortune. Other events that strike us as lucky turn out to be anything but.
All of us would love to have 100 per cent control over what happens in our lives, but we don’t. Even as we lay track toward our goals, unexpected events blindside us and derail our plans.
When that happens I try to remember to rise above all the things going on around me and survey them as if I were an impartial observer. I try view whatever comes—no matter what it is—as a big, welcome surprise. “So THAT’s what happens!”
This attitude makes it easier to be at peace with life. Stuck in the slow line at the grocery store? So THAT’S what happens! A winning goal for your hockey team in overtime? So THAT’S what happens! You’re fired? So THAT’S what happens!”
It’s easier to be at peace with life if all the petty disagreements, unforeseen twists of fate, illnesses, riches, journeys, friends, deaths or births become big, welcome surprises.
So THAT’s what happens! Surprise! I wonder what happens next?