You have to give up to grow up.
Some years ago I was working in France with some friends, and we had the opportunity to have a flight in a small aircraft around the area we were living in. At the time I decided that I didn’t have enough money to be able to pay for that trip so I decided to pass.
I know that the money that I saved from not going on the trip is now all gone, but the memories that I could have had from that flight have gone forever.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it”. So says the old proverb.
Now I’m not suggesting here that we need to be unwise where money is concerned, or make unnecessary purchases, but life has a way of bringing us choices to make. Some choices are obvious; wait for the illuminated man to turn green before crossing the road, and wear a coat outside if it’s cold and wet. Other choices will have little impact either way – would you prefer cream or ice-cream on your dessert.
However, some choices mean giving up something valuable for something even more valuable. I have met some of these choices in my career so far. At the first company I worked for, I was there for over 10 years before I made a career move, and that was a really difficult decision. To leave behind the security of a good reputation in a well-paid position in a job that I knew really well, to go to work for a new company.
I was at the second firm for less than two years before I moved on again and then settled down very happily for over 10 years at the new firm. During that time I had to face another kind of trade-off when I moved from a Project Management role into a Sales role. Here I had to sacrifice some of my basic salary to make room for a commission and to start getting paid for my results.
“People will cling to an unsatisfactory way of life rather than change in order to get something better, for fear of getting something worse.”
~ Eric Hoffer
Each of these trade-offs meant giving up something valuable for something that I felt was going to be more valuable. Each trade-off had the motive of wanting to move on in my career, away from what had become monotonous for me, yet had the unknown future of whether I could perform in the new role.
This seems to be something that gets harder with increasing years. When you’ve got nothing to give up, it’s easy to give up everything. Opera Singer Beverly Sills said: “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Growth has a cost. Every trade-off is a challenge to become what we really are.
“When you’ve got nothing to give up, it’s easy to give up everything.”
Of course, some things are not negotiable, and never will be. Personal and professional integrity and values, strong relationships and spending quality time with family and close friends; for me, these are not trading chips in the journey through life. Trade-offs here are not available, and will only bring heartache, hurt and regrets.
However, as life passes by there are some things that cause regret only if they are clung on to beyond their useful life. Like the money that I was unwilling to spend on the flight in France.
The only way I could start a sales career was to give up a project management career. The most difficult trade-offs come when there is an investment in the thing that is being traded. It’s easy to trade in an old unreliable car for a new one, but less easy to trade in a job with a good reputation and salary for another in which there is little track record and less financial security.
“The difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to take in our lives.”
~ John Maxwell
Two things we all need to know and hold on to as we navigate life’s journey and seek to make the most of what we have are:
- What am I willing to give up today to bring change tomorrow? and
- What am I NOT willing to give up?
What’s on your list, and what trade do you need to make now that you have been unwilling to make?
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.