To Push or not to Push?

Image Credit: travelsheep2004

Thought experiment: if I offered you two rocks like the ones above and asked you to choose one to push. Which one would you choose to push? The small rock on top or the large one below? I bet your choice of the small rock is probably based on the assumption that you think I want you to push your chosen rock on a level ground surface. We face two types of rocks in life: struggles and challenges. There is the human tendency to try to deal with both obstacles with the same strategies and approaches. These two obstacles require two completely different responses and actions.

An apt analogy for a ‘struggle’ (returning to the thought experiment) is pushing the smaller rock up a slippery hill. The more you push, the more frustrated you become because the rock keeps rolling back. You are tempted to keep trying because of the small size of the rock hence you exert more effort and energy. You keep trying but keep accomplishing very little. You become more frustrated and angry. You then become too invested to walk away but by persisting you waste your time {and consequently, your life}.

The size of the rock is not the problem; it is the hill that is the problem. The hill is the context and success is dependent on context. Successful people identify the right contexts that play to their strengths and avoid those that don’t. This is what makes them successful. What you need in this scenario is not persistence but discernment. The wisdom to walk away and focus on something else that will be profitable. We hate to walk away from an invested loss but sometimes walking away is the first step to gain.

Now, imagine a ‘challenge’ as pushing the large rock downhill. The hard part is pushing the large rock as far as the edge of the hill and then letting gravity do the rest. You do need the persistence and perseverance to keeping pushing the rock, especially when the edge of the hill seems far away. It is so easy to balk at the large size of the rock and bail thereby going for the seemingly smaller rock and trying to push that up the hill.

This is a difference between a struggle and a challenge. With a struggle, all you can do is cut your losses and walk away because increased effort will produce limited results. With a challenge, you need to persevere in order to achieve breakthrough. You, however, need to decide via discernment whether what are you are going through is a struggle or a challenge and have the courage to take appropriate action despite previous investment of time, money and effort. To push or not to push?

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