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The Art Of Not Giving Up | FNBB 97
Giving up is not in a squirrel’s vocabulary. We have been in a virtual war here trying to keep a whole community of squirrels out of Mike’s bird feeder. It’s been like watching Bill Murray fighting with the gopher in Caddyshack. Every time Mike tries a new tactic to keep the squirrels away, they figure out how to get around it. I’ve even taken to singing Kenny Loggins’ “I’m alright” from the Caddyshack soundtrack every time Mike goes to work at it.
But the squirrels are relentless. They don’t stop until they find a way to get what they want. Sometimes they will even risk it all and hurl themselves through the air from a nearby tree to get to that feeder. Watching them never give up is quite impressive. How do we tap into some of that for ourselves?
Things are always great till they get hard. When things get hard, it requires effort. And effort requires getting uncomfortable. And being uncomfortable isn’t fun. So we give up. Giving up is easy. We tell ourselves that “this thing” isn’t doable or worth it, or we didn’t want it anyway. Convincing ourselves of that is so much easier at the moment.
If we give up, then we don’t fail. Nobody likes to fail, and if you give up, then it’s like being able to tell yourself and the world that you CHOSE not to do this thing. We say “I didn’t want it anyway. It would have cost me too much time or money”. Or we try to convince ourselves that the benefits didn’t outweigh the risks or effort.
There are many practices to put into place to keep from quitting or giving up. I’ve got three for you.
The word “can’t” is not one of my favorites. Can’t is an excuse. The squirrels don’t know what “can’t” means. All they know is they can and they will. They don’t know how and they don’t know when, but they will. It doesn’t matter how many times Mike adjusts that bird feeder with an impossible situation of how the squirrels will get to it, one of them always figures it out eventually. And once one of them figures it out, the rest are like “a-ha” and they join in and are all successful.
The same is true for us. Once someone proves that something can be done, we all have to accept that we can do it, too. Running a 4-minute mile was impossible at one point until Roger Bannister broke it in 1954. And now the “four-minute barrier” has been broken by nearly 2000 athletes and is considered the standard for professional middle-distance runners.
You are vulnerable on the road to success and must block out all outside noise. There will be voices in telling you to quit and wanting you to come live in their negative space. And there will be voices with bad advice and short cuts, which never work.
Squirrels don’t care which will succeed, as long as one of them does. Then they all set their sites on succeeding themselves. They have a singular focus. You have to move through your thing with blinders on. Know that it is possible. Don’t let anything or anyone convince you to give up, not even yourself.
Be the squirrel.
Listen to the podcast version of this blog on Redesigning Midlife
An article on ways to keep squirrels out of your bird feeder – Mike has tried them all.