Lesson 5: Take Every Advantage
We do our best to set reasonable goals, but part of persevering is being ready when an unexpected opportunity turns up.
Take the U-Turn. After we used it in the race many howled that we’d been poor sports. Not true. It’s a fair part of the game, and it helped us significantly.
From time to time life will throw us a bone, a bit of good fortune, an out-of-the-blue chance—and we must be prepared to act on it. Now, life is not a game, and I’m not suggesting that we cause anyone harm, but rather that we take advantage of the good fortune that comes our way. It seems obvious, but we don’t always do this. We feel we don’t deserve or haven’t earned something, or that it’s unfair to receive when someone else hasn’t. Here’s my advice: take the gift and be grateful.
I’ll never forget the humiliation I heaped upon myself one evening. Not long after Sheryl and I were married, we were helping to raise funds for the organization we worked for and had gone out for dinner with a couple we’d approached about a funding opportunity. The evening went well—until it came time to pay, and the couple offered to treat us. It should have been no big deal, but since we had invited them, I felt that we should pay. So I resisted the offer, to the point of offense. “What,” said the man, “is my money not good enough for you?” That was a tad harsh, but the truth is I thought I had something to prove; I was insecure about not being in the same financial position as this couple; and a part of me felt I didn’t deserve their generosity. Looking back, I physically cringe at how I must have come across. It was a simple gift, a bit of good fortune, and instead of graciously accepting it I made the moment horribly awkward.
Here’s a story you may have heard but that nicely exemplifies the idea: A man trapped in his house by a flood begins to pray to God to save him. After he climbs to the roof, the floodwaters rising all around him, an individual in a boat comes by and offers to take him to higher ground. The man declines, saying that he’s prayed and believes that God will save him. In time, he’s swept away by the flood. Later, in heaven, he’s upset with God and asks why he didn’t save him. God’s reply: “I tried.”
Most believe they would never be as naive as the character in this story, and maybe they are right. Yet, time and again we were told that we should never have used that U-Turn. I, on the other hand, am so glad that we jumped in that boat and sailed to higher ground.
By Tim Hague
This blog post is an excerpt from the book
Perseverance: The Seven Skills You Need to Survive, Thrive, and Accomplish More Than You Ever Imagined.
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