Give Me a Break

February 4th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Every year at the end of the year, my wife and I sit down and prepare our goals for the next year. This year one of the major things we added to our list was cut those around us, each other, and ourselves a little more slack.

Too frequently we wind it so tight and demand such a high level of performance from of ourselves, that we miss the real, joyful opportunities around us.

The reality is no one is perfect. 

Each of us makes mistakes–irrespective of trying to do our best. Sometimes we just have to live in this messy imperfect world, bungle a little bit, and accept it. I have found this in business too. I have found this in my spiritual life, and I have found this in my personal life. Often times the biggest tragedy that occurs is being too harsh, too critical, and too demanding on ourselves (and at times, on those around us).

The truth is we actually perform at a much higher level when we take the pressure off a little bit. If we cut ourselves, and those around us a little slack, the end results improve.

Now, I’m not proposing that we subscribe to a level of mediocrity either.

This week there was an event that I became aware of, and one that really drove this point home for me.

A young man that I know is having a couple of small challenges–nothing serious, but still a series of challenges. Recently this brought him to a conversation with two spiritual leaders. When I became aware of this, my heart was instantly frozen and softened simultaneously. This enigma because I know that one of those spiritual leaders is a very harsh, direct, smack-it-down kind of individual, where the other individual is kind, generous, tender, loving, building and supportive. 

I was anxious about the implications on this young man’s life. I knew that the first individual would indeed buoy him up, support him, lift him, and help him reach his height, despite several small mistakes. On the other hand, I was afraid that the other individual would want to smack him down, sequester him, and destroy him. 

The reality is that at some point we will be in the same position, if we haven’t already been there. Then we all need (and appreciate) people cutting us some slack.

We live in an imperfect world. There are going to be mistakes made. The challenge I give to all of us is…do your very best. The key then, is to is keep things going. 

I often tell my team members, “I expect mistakes. Great! Go make mistakes, just don’t make the really big ones.” 

I tell my sons the same thing, just don’t make the really big ones! That’s how we learn. If you have team members that are not making mistakes, I would argue that they are not trying hard enough. They are not pushing the envelope enough!

Again I close where I started.  Cut me a break, cut yourself a break, and enjoy the moments of life a little bit more.

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