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Sometimes you Need to Pole Vault Over Hurdles & Barriers
There are times in life that most of us find ourselves hearing something along the lines of, “that’s the way it has always been done.” It can take the form of an individual providing a reference to policy or tradition in any given environment. What goes through your mind when you receive the words from someone else that something has always been done a certain way? What words do you find yourself using to respond to this?
Let’s concentrate on policies that are either written or unwritten as well as traditions that have been established. We are not talking about laws obviously which are another thing entirely. Okay, so something has always been handled or done a certain, same way. Do we choose to simply “go with the flow” or do we offer thoughtful alternatives?
Here is an illustration of a tradition that a mentor shared years ago that is totally absurd. For 2 generations, when preparing a roast for Sunday dinner, the 2 ends of the roast were trimmed off & discarded. The grown daughter had watched her Mom prepare the Sunday roast & trim & discard the roast ends so she did the same thing. Once the granddaughter was grown & living on her own, she began to prepare a roast for the 3 generations including her grandmother, mother & her own family. She too trimmed the ends of the roast & discarded the 2 ends of the roast. It occurred to her though that she had no idea why this was the tradition. She asked her mother why she had done this & her mother replied that she had seen her mom do this so she followed in kind. Finally, the granddaughter asked her grandmother why she had always prepared the roast like this. The grandmother replied that she had only really done this once & that it was because her roasting pan was too small for the roast. This is a bit of a silly story in a lot of ways yet it gets at the root of the spirit of how our thinking can become confined or robotic or willing to accept certain ways of doing things simply because that is the way it has always been done.
The changes that we see dramatically with each passing year are exciting. In juxtaposition, we also have some “dinosaur thinking” out there when it comes to finding creative alternative solutions to challenges.
Some folks are so resistant to change, to possibly giving that creative brain a work out that they fall prey to clinging at all costs to “the way it has always been done.” Okay, what do we do “with” & “about” that?
The first thing that comes to my mind is that I ask myself “if it is a hill that I want to die on.” By this, I mean it does not make sense to me to question or challenge every single person or thing out there. Instead, I find that it is better for me to make an informed choice. We can choose to ask ourselves if the situation is something that we can either live with as it is or if it is a situation where a stance is absolutely the best choice. The point is that we always have a choice. It is about wise choices. The first choice then is whether to do something about a circumstance or not.
Once we decide that a challenge is worthy of becoming part of a change agent in, what do we do next? Have you found that when you try to work towards a different plan that you are challenged by folks clinging to the “old ways?” That’s a great thing. I have found that when we are doing the “next right thing”, we will often be challenged. Do we stop with resistance or do we choose to pole vault if necessary over the barrier or do we build a doorway to enter through the barrier? Well, that depends on the situation, your level of passion towards the cause & outcome as well as your energy level.
If we all agree that Albert Einstein was a profoundly intelligent man, then let’s consider two of his famous quotes. The first one is, “within every challenge lies opportunity” & the second is, “you cannot fix the current problems of today at the same level of thinking that they were originally created.” Isn’t it incredible that both quotes stretch our thinking & can if we let them permeate our attitudes?
It would not surprise me if you & I share something in common through our experiences of journeying through life with either diabetes, a 365 health challenge or any significant life or loss challenge that we have endured. Here’s what we may share in common: a new way of thinking & a spirit of determination. Strangely, diabetes has strengthened me along the way. In talking to other folks with either health or other life challenges, they have shared that they have found this to be the case too. How amazing is it to take this strength & try with all our spirits to make a small difference in the world.
What can we choose to do about & with a situation with this strength of spirit? We each get to answer that question with our own hearts. Recently, I found myself in yet another situation, (we all have these situations perhaps more often than we would like), that my spirit, intuition & being propelled me towards trying to become an agent of change. It was yet another example of folks saying, “this is the way it has always been done” not literally but certainly this was the spirit of the message. The trouble with this answer is that the “always has been done this way” of action meant that someone that I love dearly was definitely going to be put in a situation that they were going to be vulnerable to failure. My philosophy of problem solving has for as long as I can remember been one where I will not approach others with the identifying of the problem unless & until I am prepared to walk in with a list of potential solutions to the challenge. It is an approach that I hope folks value since they then see that my reason for discussing challenges is not to ever simply complain or criticize but rather to offer solutions instead.
For sure it is not easy to try to be a part of changing “the old ways of doing things” since there are still oodles of folks invested in preserving doing things the same way. Doing things the same way may serve in some cases. In the situations where we or someone we love are put in to a “square peg, round hole situation” in life & then to be told either through word or action to please accept it…well, what do we choose to do “about” & “with” that? That is something that we each get to answer for ourselves. If the cause is something that will make a positive difference in the life of someone that you love or a whole community of people in the future whose faces you may not even know, well, that may just be “the hill” to pursue with stedfastness.
We can choose to use our strength, passion & love for others serve to be the compass of how we decide the causes to accept & the ones we attempt to try to change for the better. When we use our gifts & bring along not just the identifying of a problem but also proposed potential solutions, then we are making a choice to do something “with” our health challenges. We can use the strength of spirit that we have worked towards growing for a great cause. Hopefully, we can make a difference in the life of someone else. It will not be easy to try to encourage changes to “the way it has always been done” thinking & you & I will be challenged. Let’s face it though, if something truly matters, we cannot afford to not care enough to try to be a peaceful advocate of change.
Whether we each decide to build a doorway through barriers or pole vault over them, my heart’s hope is that we use our strengths & gifts in a way that will bring blessings to others in our human family.
Smiles, Saundie :)