In High school English, our teacher had us read dozens of Indian Animal Parables. You have probably heard the one about the blind men and the elephant. That’s a classic. There is another one I’ve always remembered that was more meaningful to me. It goes:
A man was walking in the wilderness and realized he was being stalked by a tiger. He was near a cliff with a vine hanging down to the ground, so he starting climbing down the vine, knowing the tiger could not follow. He was about halfway down with the tiger staring at him hungrily when a lion at the bottom of the cliff noticed him. The man was trapped dangling on the vine, a lion below and a tiger above. Two mice, one black and one white, started to crew through the vine above him. There was nothing else for him to hang onto. It was then that he noticed a strawberry plant growing on the cliff with one ripe strawberry on it. The man picked it and ate it and it was sweet.
Yes. That is the end of the parable. We leave the man hanging from a cliff over a lion with strawberry juice dripping down his chin. I always assumed he died shortly after the story ends but that isn’t the point of the parable. The man, even in the midst of a calamity not of his own making took the time to stop and enjoy that which was sweet. The strawberry was probably even sweeter to him knowing the doom that awaited him. While we may not find ourselves dangling from a vine with two predatory cats looking to make a meal out of us, at least not twice, we all find ourselves obligated to times and places we don’t want to be and doing things we don’t want to do. We should pull as much joy, learning and growth from those situations as we can.
I told this parable to my class the other day. My course (marketing foundations) is a required course and the majority of students aren’t marketing majors. If it were up to them, they wouldn’t take ANY marketing classes. Unfortunately for them, it is required. While I try to make it as interesting and valuable for them, I encourage them to taste the strawberry while they are there.
My family and I enjoy amazing freedoms thanks to those who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. My weak ability at words is insufficient to state how thankful I am to the lady and gentlemen warriors who have fought and died for the rest of us.
I thank you for the freedom and security my family and I feel. Please know that we do not take this freedom for granted.
I bumped into a neighbor recently. She’s very nice and our kids have gone to the same schools for nine years. While we aren’t exactly friends, there is a history of drop offs, student dances, after school programs, etc. We hadn’t spoken more than the normal neighborly “hellos” in months. She did know that I started working as a Business Coach but had no real understanding of what that meant.
We had a chance to talk last week and she asked about my Coaching Business. I summed it up for her as, “I ask my clients uncomfortable questions, tell them unpleasant truths and they typically thank me for it.” This is the best summary that I have been able to come up with to describe my coaching. When I work with my clients, my role is to push them to understand themselves and their opportunities by asking them questions they might not want to answer. Then I call them out when their answers are excuses or are inconsistent with their goals.
I have a great client who’ve I’ve known for years. She is a powerful business owner who succeeds in a business where most fail. She has earned consistent earnings while the majority in her industry have been declining. One of her significant goals is to get new customers and shift her business to being more online. Our recent recession got a bit heated because I challenged her. I told her that her plan was not sufficient to achieve her goals. As the owner of her own business and a successful one at that, no one has told her “no” in years. No one has said that her plans were not sufficient. She didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all but it was necessary.
What would have happened if I hadn’t asked her those uncomfortable questions and told her those unpleasant truths? She would have been fine. As I said, she is a powerful business owner. She would have maintained her base of business. She would have even made some inroads towards new customers and shifting her business online but not nearly at the rate she needs to realize her goals. In a few months, she would have started to realize that her tactics were not achieving her goals and she would have started making adjustments then.
By me pushing her, she has saved herself three to six months. She can start to adjust her plans now so that six months from now, she’ll be much farther along toward her goal. That is what I do. That is one of the benefits I offer my clients. I am an asker of uncomfortable questions and teller of unpleasant truths and my clients thank me for it.
Happiness isn’t reaching your goal. The excitement of being on stage and receiving the reward is short lived. The thrill of accomplishment is fleeting. So what is happiness?
Happiness is continual progress toward a goal. It is the growth and advancement of taking the necessary steps to move forward. When you accomplish a goal, take the trophy and then immediately start moving toward the next goal.
Keep moving. Keep striving. Keep growing. Everyday.
To everyone in my life, Thank You!