Last week I had the privilege of helping my sister to ‘farm sit’ for 4 days, looking after 300 sheep, 30 cattle, 3 pigs and 2 dogs (just in case you thought this was going to be about things only coming in threes).
In addition to caring for the animals we decided to try scrub clearance, which was not as easy as it looks. In the conservation trade, they call it scrub bashing, but it’s fair to say the scrub bashed us. After a remarkably short time, we were, well, bushwhacked. We felt as if we had achieved so little, relative to the size of the overall task. Yet when we turned round and looked properly, there was a colossal pile of brushwood ready to be burned – and we’d created that pile.
Why am I telling you this? In the bath several hours later (gin and tonic in hand) I cogitated over how our afternoon’s activity mirrored life’s challenges. So often in my coaching work, I see people putting tremendous pressure on themselves to achieve, and thereby discouraging themselves by the size of the task they’re taking on.
Set achievable goals. We’d been so determined to clear a massive patch, we’d lost sight of what we could realistically achieve in the time and with the basic skills and tools we had to hand.
I love the saying that “It’s not the will to win, it’s the courage to begin” – however, in this case, it took courage to stop. Stop believing that our efforts were making no difference. Stop and look and assess what we’d done in a different way: the size of the bonfire pile proved that we had made a big difference and deserved to give ourselves a pat on the back.
This simple reframing put a smile on our sweaty faces and helped us to celebrate a success.
Sometimes it’s worth having the courage to stop, look around, and praise yourself for simply having made a start on the journey.
By the way the pigs and sheep didn’t care – they just wanted their food and were quite happy to nip at the people that fed them!