Pick Up The Oars And Row

Philip Holder PhD.
Copyright 2016

row 20160222bMy father used to say, “Some people would rather rock the boat than pick up the oars and row”. The unfortunate reality is that there is a lot of truth in that saying. People, more often than not, become more immersed in the problem than they are in finding and more importantly implementing a solution.

I often tell students, patients, family and friends that “it’s easy to find a problem… How about finding a solution”! Often you don’t even have to look for a problem. The problem finds you. What takes effort and tenacity is to find solutions. What takes wisdom, courage and integrity, is to be proactive and implement the solution(s).

It’s much easier to put down the oars and complain about the problem, than it is to pick up the oars, put your back into it, and row toward your goal. Why then, do most people choose to focus on the problem instead of developing and implementing a solution? That’s easy… It takes no effort to restate and restate and restate a problem and to complain, complain, complain about it. It takes strength, effort and tenacity to develop a solution and, more significantly to implement the solution.

Often people spend untold emotional energy agonizing over issues that do not really deserve the level of emotional investment they are given, while ignoring the truly important issues. Here are some tips that I (and our patients and students) have found helpful.

Choose You Battles Wisely:
Not every fight is worth fighting and not every hill is worth climbing!

Before becoming too invested in a perceived “Problem”, ask yourself this:
What impact is this event or situation going to have on the overall outcome of my life?

Put the issue at hand into perspective by asking yourself this question:
If I was on my Death Bed right now, would I really think that this “Problem” was of any significant importance?

If the “Problem involves another person, ask yourself these 3 questions:
Is my ego getting in the way?
Would I rather be happy or right?
Do I really benefit from winning, thereby making the other person a loser?

Owning your stuff is the only way to have power in your life. If it’s someone else’s fault you can’t fix it and
therefore you are powerless! If it’s yours, and you own it, then you have the power to fix it. Don’t be afraid to
own your part in a problem! That ownership gives you the power to implement change.

In life, you’re either moving forward or backwards. There is no standing still. Stagnation is death. Always strive to move forward. As I have often said, “The only thing that we can depend on consistently is change. Interestingly though, change is the thing people resist the most”. All things are in a constant state of change. No one can stop that. The good news is that each person can decide whether that change will be for the better or for the worse. The past is dead, the future is unborn, each and every moment is an opportunity. Now… the present… this very instant… gives you both power and opportunity if you are fully present in the moment and available to recognize the opportunity(s). Negativity is an anchor not a sail. Focus on what you can affect in a positive way and leave behind what you cannot. Positive change is available to you if you have the courage and wisdom to solve problems through a solution oriented mindset. If you become discouraged when life seems unfair or when your expectations are not met, you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. All disappointment comes from expectation. Be present as life unfolds and simply experience it, open to all possibilities, then move forward.

Bill Gates High School Class Commencement Address

Bill Gates gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair . . . get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car PHONE ( company cell phone ) until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping . . . they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

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