No Toast Today & Other Trade-Offs: The Value of Pain, Persistence and Growth
One of the fresh bits of information I acquired, while researching off-grid solar systems for our home, is that a toaster is what is called a “dead short,” and it consumes a tremendous amount of electricity. So when it is overcast outside, a truly rare and fleeting occurrence in New Mexico, I don’t use the toaster. I usually enjoy granola instead. And as is the wonderful nature of trade-offs, this morning I also built a nice, beautiful fire in our wood stove to take off the chill.
I have long been intrigued by the notion of trade-offs.
In Interior Design there is the concept of “addition by subtraction,” whereby you add something more desirable to your décor by first removing something else to make room. You introduce your new treasure only after you have subtracted an existing item.
In the Abrahamic traditions of spiritual discipline there is a similar dynamic. In our growth and development, God often will move in our lives to remove some hindrance or separating influence in order to make room for something greater, more empowering or fruitful. The Psalmist has written, “For You, O God, tested us; You refined us like silver…we went through fire and through water…But You brought us to a place of abundance.”
Some years back I gave up the office water cooler for a home-based business and my own well. Nice trade-off. I went from gridlock to being totally off the grid. But I sacrificed the security of a regular paycheck and benefits, for the possibility and freedom to build income without limits and to be my own boss. I was often scared and stretched beyond what I thought I could handle. I had to immerse myself in a whole new approach to learning and personal growth before abundance began to appear. And I came to know, beyond any and all doubts and fears, that an old dog most definitely can learn new tricks.
I know well why they are called growing pains. Most of my key insights have come from some form of suffering or struggle. I have also learned that, as Kip Herriage puts it, “our comfort zone is our failure zone.” Or as Napoleon Hill phrases it, “The way of success is the continuous pursuit of knowledge.”
A dear friend of mine was a professional athlete for many years. She taught me the truth and the triumph in the saying, “No pain, no gain.” I think about that almost every day whether I am doing my regular 40 minutes, or I’ve decided to increase the time or level of resistance on my elliptical trainer, or I am determined to do a few more reps with my free weights. What keeps me going when I really want to stop, is knowing how much better I will feel the entire rest of the day.
We all know the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Nothing of value and significant worth comes easily. There is no boundless exhilaration without genuine effort. No real success without risk, persistence and effective effort. No bearing of luscious and abundant fruit without painful pruning. No precious metals without the refiner’s fire.
For me the key is to know what you want, define your dream and then persistently apply all of your energy, thoughts, skills and talents to make it happen. We live in an elegantly designed universe and are blessed with innumerable gifts, marvelous choices,and readily accessible, inexhaustable power. There are endless possibilities and people who can offer spirited support. There is no reason to stay in our comfortable failure zone unless we choose to do so. And why would anyone honestly want to do that? You know the expression, “Feel the fear and do it anyway?” The fear doesn't go away, but it can be diminished and made to lessen its icy grip. I love Nikes. I’ve been wearing them for years. I also love their challenge: Just do it. It’s not called a leap of faith without reason. Although you do have to make the decision, you do not have to go it alone.
Whatever your heart’s desire, whatever your vision or your passion, I urge you to honor and relentlessly pursue it. If you do, you can be assured that the tradeoffs will be well beyond worth it.
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