Bridge Across Gorge

In this work, I see all kinds of crazy things. I label them as crazy not because I want to make judgement. I call them crazy because they lead to consequences that are at odds with the pronounced goals that people have for themselves.

So, let’s say, for example, that someone pronounces: “I want to learn how to get more grants funded.”

Then let’s say that they take it to the next logical step: “I’m going to pursue some training on this!”

Yay! The critical first steps are out of the way. You’d think it would be all downhill from there. If only it were so…

See, if that person decides to sign up for a class, there’s the matter of tuition. Most teachers and mentors – for some bizarre reason – like to get paid so they can have a roof over their heads.

Now, you’d think tuition might be a simple matter. You pay it, you learn the skills, you apply them, and you experience the benefits that success brings (they are manyfold). In other words it’s a simple exchange of some tuition money for the BENEFIT and the VALUE of career advancement and research progress.

But no. For some people it’s not so simple.

Some people think this complicating thought: SOMEONE ELSE HAS TO PAY, OR ELSE I WONT DO IT. I hope this is not you, but if it is, I invite you to examine your beliefs about this subject.

The (conditional) clients

Let me explain where this came from. Over time, I’ve had a number of clients who came to me for help, and who put one and only one condition on getting that help: if someone else (like a university) pays for it, they’ll get the help. If they have to pay for it personally, forget it.

If you CAN get someone to pay, then it’s great. If you work at a university, it will certainly benefit them to have you improve your operating skills in your job. But sometimes, for whatever reasons, university administrators find themselves on the short side of the “clue bus” and therefore decide that they won’t pay for any kind of career development.

Here’s where I notice a big divide in actions and results.

One group of people will get the help no matter what because they realize it is ultimately an investment in their own life – and that their life is worth the cost. They want more balance, more fun, more joy, more leadership, and they will not be stopped in obtaining those things, even if it means overcoming a financial hurdle.

Another group of people will get help only if there is no personal financial inconvenience involved.  They see getting help with their own lives as if it were a “right” (not a privilege), one that should be given to them at no cost. In other words, they want the benefit of improvement without the investment that it takes to get that improvement.

Where do these two different views lead?

Diet pills vs exercise

Let’s say you want to loose some weight. One way to do it might be to take diet pills, thinking that you can get the benefit of weight loss without any of the work involved in it. It may work short-term, but diet pills are not the permanent solution to weight loss (and they can have many negative side effects).

The only permanent solution is a change of thinking that leads to a change of habits: more exercise and better eating. Despite all the diet trends over the years, any diet that works over the long haul will involve some variation of these things. And so you cannot get the benefit of weight loss without the investment of serious effort to change your habits.

It’s the same way with anything in life. It’s a sort of “universal law” which says: thou shalt not receive a lasting benefit for which thy have not invested. Call it karma or call it cosmic balance… it is operating always, everywhere.

Oh, sure. There are people who get short-term wins without any sort of serious investment on their own part. However, looking at the history of lottery winners is sobering: many of them end up with just as many (if not more) problems a few years after winning the lottery as they had before. They got the prize without any real investment.

The end results

Like I said, I work hard to be nonjudgmental about people’s choices. It’s fine if people choose to seek the benefit without the investment in any area of their life.

But, like the law of gravity is operating whether or not you like it, this law of balance operates always and everywhere. What it produces is a long-term disparity between those who understand and operate within it, versus those who try to fight it. I see this disparity very clearly in the outcomes of people I’ve worked with over the years between those who will get the skills they need at any cost, versus those who do so conditionally.

You can fight gravity if you have a rocketship or airplane – yet those things require a constant input of energy to keep moving. You can fight this law of karmic balance, too – if you’re willing to expend constant energy in doing so. Of course, that energy could be used for other purposes. Going with the flow of universal law is always far easier than going against it.

I had one client who was so dedicated to her career success that she overcame embarrassment of asking the inlaws for a loan to pay the tuition for our work together. She was one of the most dedicated people I’ve worked with. And the result? She just recently got notice of a > $3 Million grant award, along with having a far better work/life balance, having more fun in her job, being seen as a leader, and getting along with colleagues better. Her commitment to her improvement paid off, and over the long-term of her career will yield vast returns on the investment of time, effort and tuition money that she made.

Dedicated school teachers

There are some school teachers I’ve known who pay for class supplies out of their own pockets. Yes, these are people earning a relatively small salary to begin with, and yet they are so dedicated to their students’ success that they pay, out of pocket, to help assure that success. It is commendable. It is an example of being willing to make the investment to get the outcome, despite the obstacles.

Would it be better if the school system spent its money on the supplies? Certainly. Yet these teachers don’t wait around for that to happen.

And these are the ones who care so much about students’ success, that that success is far more likely under their tutelage than it is under the tutelage of a less dedicated teacher.

The same thing applies to one’s own success. The question I have for anyone who wants to be an innovator, a leader, is this: are you willing to do whatever it takes to expand into becoming that person, or are you only going to do it if the external conditions are “exactly right?” (hint: the conditions will never remain “exactly right” for long, and you will face challenges).

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