Of Cows and Hardship

A friend of mine keeps a small herd of cattle on his farm. But before initially releasing the cows to his pasture, he noticed several patches of a weed, Canadian thistle, growing in the pasture. He immediately thought, “I’ve got to get rid of that weed!” Like most thistles, this one also has tiny thorns. Additionally, weeds tend to be invasive and could soon take over a whole pasture.

But as he researched the problem, my friend discovered something he hadn’t expected. While it’s true that cows initially find this thistle’s tiny thorns unpleasant, they toughen to the thorns and will eat it. And eating it yields two great results. First, this thistle contains much higher amounts of protein than the grass in the pasture, so it’s more nutritious. Second, by eating it the cows naturally keep the thistle from spreading. But the key is, they have to put up with the thorns.

Why am I writing about cows eating thistles? Because when faced with hardship, our immediate response is, “I’ve got to get rid of this problem!” But time and time again, hardships, challenges, and problems prove to be far more beneficial in helping us grow than when all is going smoothly and according to plan.

Obviously, there are some hardships or problems in our lives that we need to remove as soon as possible. But sometimes we try to extricate ourselves from a gritty challenge too soon. Perhaps we should at least stop and reflect on a few questions like:

  • What caused this problem? (What do I need to change?)
  • In what ways can I grow as a result of this hardship?
  • What are my peripheral responses to this hardship? (How am I holding up? What impact is it having on: my joy, the way I treat others, or my health?)
  • Where is God in the midst of this crisis? To what extent am I trusting Him?
  • Instead of running from this problem, how else could I respond to it?

Hardships toughen us, stretch us and enable us to grow in ways otherwise not possible. What are the thistles in your life right now and how can you profit from them?

©2017 Rob Fischer

Climbing the Heights through Coaching

Call me crazy, but there are certain aspects of basic training in the Army that I really enjoyed! One of my favorites was the “Confidence Course.” The Confidence Course was the mother of all challenge courses without the safety devices (at least back then).

One of the elements (or structures) on the Confidence Course that I most vividly remember was called the Skyscraper and resembled a multi-story building. This structure consisted of four telephone poles planted vertically in the ground, their bases forming a square. Each pole stood about eight feet from the other. The four poles all angled outward, away from the center of the structure as they rose from the ground.

At increments of about nine feet, level platforms were suspended between the poles forming each “story.” Because the poles jutted outward, so did each successive story. This made jumping up to the next story impossible.

The rules of engagement were that we were not allowed to climb the poles, but had to ascend the Skyscraper simply by climbing from one level to the next. The challenge was that there was no way to accomplish the task by ourselves. Instead, we paired up with a buddy with whom we worked together to climb the Skyscraper. Working with another person the task was still difficult but doable.

Engaging the challenges of a career, relationships, a major transition, or some lofty goal can be far more complex and daunting than climbing the “Skyscraper.” But for some reason, we often think we have to go it alone. Somewhere along the line, we picked up the false notion that if we don’t achieve our goals alone, we’ve somehow failed.

Let me debunk that notion! International leadership guru, Bill Hybels, said, “I have never done a single thing of value without the assistance of others.”

I have to agree with Bill. And one of the best ways to engage the assistance of others to help achieve whatever challenge stands before us is to employ a coach. I’ve personally gained so much through working with a coach.

Perhaps you’ve never engaged a coach before, but I’ve piqued your interest. Let me offer you a free, no-obligation, 30-minute, kick-the-tires coaching session. You’ve nothing to lose and a lot to gain! Try coaching and see how you can maximize your leadership potential and stay on top of your game.

©2015 Rob Fischer, CPLC

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