This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the opening paragraph Scott Peck’s classic book “The Road Less Travelled”; and just in case you aren’t familiar with it, here it it:
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
This statement is based on the first of the “Four Noble Truths” (dukkha) in which Buddha taught was “Life is suffering”; but it’s not referring to suffering in a “There’s no hope” kind of way, but more in a “Suck it up and do whatever you have to do” kind of way. It reminds us that life isn’t always a cake walk, and if we truly want to achieve our goals, we will probably have to run some interference, and deal with some form of shit in order to arrive at our desired destination. And the reason this thought has been on my mind so much this week? It’s simple; as you may know by my 2014 goals, I have a carefully laid out plan for the next couple of years of my life; however at recent meetings my employer threw a major curve ball, one that I wasn’t anticipating (or could have expected) that has the potential to derail my plan big time – despited being so close to to my personal finish line… and that’s pretty brutal. So the way I see it, – moving forward – it’s my job to do everything in my power not to let that happen; it’s time for me to “double down” on the Ant Philosophy, and do whatever I can to (a) stay on course, and (b) hit my goals and targets.
Without getting into specifics, here’s what’s happened: It was recently announced that I’ve got a new boss, someone whose past history with the company doesn’t really scream “lead/inspire/communicate with others”; yet here they are, getting promoted. And yes, I do need to give this person a chance, I know that – however based on what I’ve seen over the past 6 years I’m skeptical of their desire to rise up to the challenge. And while my last boss wasn’t very effective in the role, at least with him I knew my parameters, and what to expect. And while his promotion makes good sense for both him and the company, I can’t help wondering why they simply promote this other lacklustre individual, rather than bringing in a fresh face that embodies leadership, experience and know-how? The move that has me seriously questioning how this guy will affect my own work situation, mostly since my “life plan” is based on working within the parameters of “The devil I know” not “The devil I don’t”, and right now I’m unsure what his expectations of me will be… will I have to adapt or change my current habits? Put my focus elsewhere? Switch my priorities etc. to appease this guy and his agenda? Who knows? It’s not at all a comfortable place to be, but one that I must figure it out, and quickly – hence why I’ve been thinking about the “Life is difficult” paragraph so much.
I realize that if I’m to get along with this guy I’ll probably have to change my approach to my job, and my attitude towards him, despite his history of being aloof and unwilling to engage with people. And while real respect needs to be earned, (not delegated or thrust upon) I don’t think I have the time to wait this one out, and may even have to swallow a few bitter pills before it gets any better. Let’s face facts: Sometimes there are times when life forces us to do things we don’t want to do, or be someone we don’t want to be, just to get through – you now, kind of like “Life can be difficult” – all I know is that I have to stick to the high road, and weather this storm…
So in an effort to stay focused, positive and on top of things that matter to me, I did a little surfing looking for some guidance and inspiration to help me with my quandary, and stumbled upon a list of “Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Successful” on a blog called Dame Luthas.com. I’ve edited it and changed a few of the examples, but the core of the list below comes from this source; I’m no plagiarist, so if you’d like to see the original material, check the link out here.
Either way, here is my version of the list; and when followed, these ideas and actions should help anyone overcome life’s (and work’s) challenges – both big and small. I hope you like it, and find some value in it – I know I have; now I have to live this creed and try and get through the next couple of years.
“Hard Things We All Need To Do To Be Successful”
We have to do those hard things that no-one else wants to do
We have to make the calls we’re afraid to make
We have to get up earlier than we want to, and be disciplined throughout the day to stay on task
We have to give more to others than we’ll ever get back, and not keep score along the way
We have to care more about others than they’ll ever care about us
We have to fight when we’re are injured, bloody, and sore, and never take our eye off the prize
We have to stare insecurity and uncertainty in the face, and soldier on anyway
We have to always be leaders – even when no one else is following
We have to invest in ourselves, especially when no one else is
We have to look for the answers we don’t have, and be prepared to feel foolish in our quest
We have to give 100% in every single thing we do – and that means everything
We have to deliver results, even when making excuses is an acceptable option
We have to be prepared to make mistakes, and look (and feel) foolish at times
We have to get up the on eleventh time after falling ten times prior
We have to be kind to people who have been unkind to us – no matter how hard it is
We have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable, and deliver unparalleled results
We have to be accountable for our actions – even when things go wrong
The bottom line is that in order to succeed at our goals, we must always, always do whatever it is we need we to do, and always, always think like an ant
Remember: The hardest things to do are those that no one else is doing, or are willing to do; things that often scare us, and make us wonder how much longer we can hold on, especially as life keeps throwing us curveballs. But if we accept that sometimes “Life is difficult” and keep moving forward like Buffalo Soldiers, staying focused on our goals, doing the hard things we need to, we just might be surprised just how amazing we really are, and the incredible things that we can achieve… right?
Because when the storm dies down and the sun comes out, it will be us who will be basking in it’s warmth, and not those hiding in the dark crawl spaces and corners of life. And that’s exactly why we fight through the mediocrity, and take the high road; to become better people tomorrow than we are today. Besides, from what I’ve seen, it’s way less crowed than on the low road.
Thanks again to Dame Luthas for providing the inspiration for this post; I really needed it. Onward and upward!
Readers: Which of these ideas resonates with you most, and why? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!