My son and I recently had a conversation about what priorities were and how we must do the things that we must, so that we can do the things that we want. His 8 year old level interpretation was “You sacrifice stuff now, so you can have fun a little later.” Some recent events this week have caused me to replay this conversation in my mind over and over as I contemplate the next steps in my career. Hopefully it will help you in yours as well.
When you want success or wish it on other people we must be realistic and prepared for what comes with that territory. Success, however you define it, typically starts off uncomfortable. Reality is that the initial stages of “making it” suck. It’s down right unnatural. We must allow ourselves to be pushed in ways that we said we’d never allow. We must swallow pride and fear, accepting difficult assignments and working with people that we’ve spent years avoiding.
Everyone That Cheers You On May Not Be Ready…
Those that support and cheer us on must make adjustments as well. Some of those difficult conversations will occur with the ones that we love and admire. Why? Because sometimes being someone else’s biggest fan and cheerleader is inconvenient once the plans go into motion, especially if they are negatively affected. We have to be prepared for the fact that occasionally we may miss a school play. We must accept that there may be less quality time to go around. There may be extra work created for others. We may have to skip the hanging out at lunch or occasional happy hour.
Having supporters yelling from the sidelines works up to a certain point, but to really get where we’re going, we need those kinds of “cheerleaders” that can hold people up for extended periods of time…you know, like those human pyramids. You know, the kind that have to commit to a different level of sacrifice and training to support the person on the playing field. These people that are willing to sacrifice with you keep the end results and benefits in mind and will continue to provide the support you need even though it’s difficult for them.
Compromise Doesn’t Mean Defeat
When my son and I were having our discussion…video games vs. homework…TV time vs. helping his little sister, he wasn’t initially able to see past the immediate desire that wasn’t being met. I’m sure in his head, I sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher until he heard the words “No” and “Wii”. It was my duty to show him the bigger picture and to help it make sense…otherwise my sermonette would have been nothing more than hot air. My task was to show him that his compromise didn’t mean punishment, it meant shifting his priorities.
When we are on our “success tracks”, it is so easy for us to get tunnel vision and anyone that disagrees just better watch out! Well one of the things that we have to give up to progress is pride, stubbornness and the notion that everything has to be our way. I challenge anyone reading this to find a success story of someone that didn’t mention that they had help or someone close to them to challenge their thinking or to deny thing something. Part of being a mature, successful leader is understanding the “not right nows” of life…especially when it comes to self. More important to the breakthrough is seeing past the setback and realizing that it is a setup for something even better down the road. Realizing that we don’t have all of the answers, even if an idea is ours, is the first step to creating something that benefits a collective whole. We occasionally have to give up some control to get more in the long run.
So what do you have to give up?
- A few extra hours of sleep
- A little extra time at the house
- Control…for now
- Pride and always being right
- Pleasure and entertainment
Remember that the sacrifice, the shift in your priorities and where you focus your energies, is temporary and leads to greater freedoms later to do the things that you want to do. Something must be cut out in order to add something new in…and that new thing must be a key in achieving the long-term goal. If no sacrifice had to be made in order to achieve success, everyone would be successful.