Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 42;   October 16, 2002:

Commitment Makes It Easier

by

When you face obstacles, sometimes the path around or through them is difficult. Committing yourself to the path lets you focus all your energy on the path you've chosen.

About 25 kilometers from Guadalajara, Mexico, at the edge of a 15-kilometer-wide caldera, is the little town of La Primavera. Much of the caldera, which is 25,000 years old, is inside a national park, which has numerous hot springs feeding hot streams. And the park is littered with blocks of obsidian, which pre-Columbian peoples used for making blades and weapons. If you're fascinated by archaeology and geology, the La Primavera caldera is a great place for hiking.

A hiker in the La Primavera caldera

A hiker in the La Primavera caldera

On one hot June afternoon, I go hiking with four friends. Going nowhere in particular, the trail crosses the Rio Caliente, which really is a hot river. If you slip or fall in, you not only get wet, you also get a nasty burn.

Approaching the stream, we check it out. The water steams as it sluices between the large rocks that are clearly the trail's intended steppingstones. The rocks are solid, smooth, and spaced a bit too far apart. To make the three leaps, you pretty much have to run, to let your momentum carry you across the gaps. If you stop on a rock, or try to walk instead of run, making the next leap will be tricky — the gaps are a bit long for a standing jump.

We talk it over. Two of us go looking for another way across, but I'm pretty sure they won't find one, because there are no other trails. The far bank is soft and sandy, so despite the steam coming off the water, and with pounding heart, I make a leaping run across. Surprised and relieved, I land on my feet in the sand of the far bank.

My friends now realize regretfully that they'll be doing the same thing. I tell them it's easy if you get a running start. "Right," is the skeptical response. One by one, though, we all get across, and continue our hike.

Sometimes, it's easier if you run.

Sometimes it's
easier if
you run
Facing an obstacle, we usually find several paths to the other side, all difficult. But sometimes proceeding cautiously makes a difficult path even more difficult. Here are some tips for difficult paths.

Take heart from others
When I saw that the trail leading straight across the stream was clear and worn, I felt encouraged. A path might be difficult, but if it's well worn, it's doable.
Commitment makes it easier
If you have to get across, accept that. If there is no easy way, let go of the wish for one. Commit yourself to doing what must be done.
Focus on the goal
Knowing that the far side was soft sand helped me. The goal is probably pretty good — if it weren't, you wouldn't be considering going there. Focus on the goal, not on the difficulty of getting there.

Although difficult paths are often worth traveling, sometimes they're not. You can't tell for sure unless you make the journey. Go to top Top  Next issue: Holey Grails  Next Issue

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

For more on achieving and inspiring goals, see "Corrales Mentales," Point Lookout for July 4, 2001; "Beyond WIIFM," Point Lookout for August 13, 2003; "Your Wishing Wand," Point Lookout for October 8, 2003; "Give It Your All," Point Lookout for May 19, 2004; "Knowing Where You're Going," Point Lookout for April 20, 2005; "Workplace Myths: Motivating People," Point Lookout for July 19, 2006; "Astonishing Successes," Point Lookout for January 31, 2007; and "Achieving Goals: Inspiring Passion and Action," Point Lookout for February 14, 2007.

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenGBFYqdeDxZESDSsjner@ChacmtFQZGrwOdySPdSsoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

A voteDecisions, Decisions: II
Most of us have participated in group decision-making. The process can be frustrating and painful, but it can also be thrilling. What processes do groups use to make decisions?
The Johari WindowAssumptions and the Johari Window: I
The roots of both creative and destructive conflict can often be traced to differing assumptions of the parties to the conflict. Working out these differences is a lot easier when we know what everyone's assumptions are.
A fancy diagram of the kind that often accompanies management fadsWhy Do Business Fads Form?
The rise of a business fad is due to the actions of both its advocates and adopters. Understanding the interplay between them is essential for successful resistance.
An F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter test aircraft AA-1 undergoes flight testing over Fort Worth, TexasThe Deck Chairs of the Titanic: Task Duration
Much of what we call work is as futile and irrelevant as rearranging the deck chairs of the Titanic. We continue our exploration of futile and irrelevant work, this time emphasizing behaviors that extend task duration.
Magic Lantern Slide of a dog jumping through a hoopJust-In-Time Hoop-Jumping
Securing approvals for projects, proposals, or other efforts is often called "jumping through hoops." Hoop-jumping can be time-consuming and frustrating. Here are some suggestions for jumping through hoops efficiently.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A possibly difficult choiceComing April 21: Choice-Supportive Bias
Choice-supportive bias is a cognitive bias that causes us to evaluate our past choices as more fitting than they actually were. The erroneous judgments it produces can be especially costly to organizations interested in improving decision processes. Available here and by RSS on April 21.
Two people engaged in pair collaborationAnd on April 28: The Self-Explanation Effect
In the learning context, self-explanation is the act of explaining to oneself what one is learning. Self-explanation has been shown to increase the rate of acquiring mastery. The mystery is why we don't structure knowledge work to exploit this phenomenon. Available here and by RSS on April 28.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenGBFYqdeDxZESDSsjner@ChacmtFQZGrwOdySPdSsoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500-1000 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power

Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?

DecisBullet Point Madnession-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented OrganizationsAre your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around.
Reader Comments About My Newsletter
A sampling:
  • Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
  • You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
  • I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
  • A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
  • …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.
  • More
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.
Comprehensive collection of all e-books and e-bookletsSave a bundle and even more important save time! Order the Combo Package and download all ebooks and tips books at once.
If your teams don't yet consistently achieve state-of-the-art teamwork, check out this catalog. Help is just a few clicks/taps away!