I really enjoy observing the cyclists where we live, watching as they strain every muscle in their bodies to climb the steep terrain. Every muscle is called on to the point of utter exhaustion prior to them enjoying the thrill of the downhill as they go wide on the corners. Sometimes there can be strong frontal winds which slow their speed as they go down the mountains, but when the wind is behind them it can cut seconds off their time trials. I watch as they huddle together in their peloton. If one rider loses just a moment of concentration, it can cause a huge spill, causing other competent riders to crash.
I think of our world economy. When times are good we become complacent, but when times get tough we ask why doesn’t somebody fix it? One company “going under” can cause a domino effect and cause other companies to go under with it. We have just had our budget released in Australia. It is so interesting to hear all the complaints about the necessity to “tighten our belts” as different groups observe spending cuts to their particular area of interest.
When we experience good times opportunities abound. Therefore, growth happens and financial results seem to come with less effort. But just like the changing seasons and fluctuations in mountain terrains, the economy faces changes and challenges. Capital has dried up and business are closing. People aren’t spending. Last year’s fashions will do another year. People are more reserved and unsure. Business leaders have the ‘wind in their faces’ as they pedal their bikes up the economic mountain. Just to keep up with the rest of the pack it is necessary to peddle harder, expend more energy, leaving nothing in reserve. We all want the easy joy ride with the wind in our hair; but you have to do the hard yards of discipline that takes you to the top.
So what can we do as the economy and households struggle during the winter of life and the uphill climb?
If we believe we are defeated then we are. When we are rehearsing the negatives and discussing how bad it is, we are planting seeds that grow in our minds and perpetrate more negativity. We mentally give up; we think ‘What is the use?’ Now we no longer even try. Emotionally and physically we experience the “depression” of “hopelessness”. Doom and gloom!
Just because we are “on the climb” doesn’t give us license to be grim. To be the life enricher — or the tour winner, we can bring a smile, humour and encouragement. Celebrate the tiniest improvements. Talk positive and move away from negative conversations. Don’t join the ‘whiners club’ where admittance is sharing the latest complaint. People often need someone to be responsible to introduce the positive and switch the direction of conversations. Farmers can’t control the weather or cyclists the size of the mountain, but both can control their care and attention to the way they handle their individual challenges. Sooner or later, for the farmer, the cyclist, and the business person, if they maintain diligence, the weather will comply, the mountain will be conquered and a prosperous end will result.
It is not the size of our problem — it’s the attitude we have about it. Without the mountain climb the muscles become flabby; without the winter the soil can’t be renewed; without budget cuts we don’t appreciate the affluence. As a life-enricher, we need to understand the life cycles, evaluate our mountains and train sufficiently to conquer and to sustain over time. We know that resistance strengthens and rain brings nourishment to the soil.
As a life-enricher, you choose to expand your own comfort zone. Great achievements require that we push past what is easily attainable. Sure, times can be tough, but there is no satisfaction if the goal is easy. We learn from our past mistakes and accomplishments and have a vision for the future. It isn’t about a fuzzy dream; it is about the passion that gives energy to do what needs to be done today — despite the economic situation, the weather or the size of the mountain.
When you have focused passion burning inside you, then your courage, character, energy and talent will rub off on those around you. Courage is what stretches the borders of your comfort zone. Character is who we are on the inside when no one is looking and it comes from a lifetime of living your values. Being a trustworthy friend and life-enricher will bring out the best in those around you.
It doesn’t matter if it is cyclist pedalling up the mountain or the farmer planting the crop, the attitude of gratitude gives energy and perspective from within. As a Chinese proverb states, “Those who drink the water must remember those who dug the well.” To sing the song, “I did it my way” and declare, “I am self-made” is a sure-fire way to come to grief.
The winner of the Tour de France doesn’t claim he did it alone. The farmer needs sunshine and rain, must fertilize, harvest and then sell. Without a buyer his efforts have been in vain. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. Whatever accomplishments any of us have achieved, we achieved them by the support and goodwill of the support team, be it family, friends, or business associates.
When we express thankfulness for the benefits showered upon us by these people, they are more likely to be there to support our future aspirations, whether it be cycling up a mountain, sowing or reaping. TEAM – Together Each Achieves More – in good times and in bad. We can look past the ‘now’ knowing that the best is yet to come as we allow the passion out, our muscles to be developed, our wisdom enriched and the comfort zone to expand.