Character Creates Opportunity® – A Clear Warning Sign: April 23, 2015

We have all felt overwhelmed from time to time.  Feeling “flooded” is a nice, polite way psychologists will described our situation when we are feeling like we have reached a final breaking point in relationships, careers, and other endeavors.

There is no denying that our experiences in the home, school, workplace, and community continue to grow more complex and create new challenges for all of us to reach our hopes and dreams.

As our situations continue to get more challenging, the principles we rely on to keep moving forward in our journey do not change.  As we guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions based on principles such as courage, perseverance, loyalty, and faith, we will figure out the most effective choices to address the complex reality we are all facing.  Techniques may change, but principles are timeless and universal to support our cause.

Throughout the generations, as the challenges seemed to grow greater, the principle based actions of individuals most certainly rose to the occasion to continue to move forward.  I am sure we can all look back through generations of our own story to find times where we faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, but managed to overcome.

However, there has always be one clear warning sign that if not addressed, will turn a near term derailment into a permanent loss in the pursuit of our goals. This warning sign is a more formidable obstacle in achieving our goals than the actual challenge we face.  This clear warning sign is when our thoughts, decisions, and actions are guided by the phrase, “I just don’t care anymore.”

Apathy is the real enemy in the long journey to pursue our hopes and dreams.

When we come to the point of not caring about the important issues within our families, the challenges of our chosen profession, the pursuit of education throughout our lives, or service in our communities, then the battle is over.  Sun Tzu said, “Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.”

We continue to build and strengthen our character when we keep caring about the things that matter most, even in the face of extreme difficulty and struggle.

Here a few thoughts to identify and address this clear warning sign:

(1)    Self-Assessment:  No one knows our inner thoughts, but us.  It is critical that we “look in the mirror” and continue to assess the genesis of our own thoughts that drive our decisions and actions.  An honest self-assessment is our best tool to identify apathy in our mindset.

(2)    Choices:  We can only effectively give our energy to a few causes.  The world is too challenging to give 50% effort and expect to make a difference.  We need the discipline to clearly choose whether to go “all in” or don’t go at all.  In today’s vernacular, my kids would say, “Go big or go home.”  We should determine what we care about most and act accordingly.

(3)    Long-term:  There is no cause worth pursuing that will have an “overnight success.” There will be a series of short term ups and downs.  It is important we don’t get too elated or too down in the short run, but focus on staying the course and caring throughout the long journey to reach our hopes and dreams.

(4)    Observation and Action:  Be on the lookout for this clear warning sign in others. Apathy can metastasize like a cancer within families, the workplace, and our communities.   We all need some courage to have the difficult conversation when we see apathy in others and share an encouraging word about the importance of addressing it and overcoming for the good of the family, the team or community.

At times, we can all struggle with making choices on what is really important.  I wanted to share a story that was recently passed on to me by a friend as a helpful guide to our choices.  A father, his three sons and two daughters stood around the hospital bed of his wife and their mother as she peacefully shared her last thoughts with them and simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”

Especially as it concerns our home and family, we need to keep up the fight against our greatest enemy, apathy. character-creates-opportunity-2014-250-by-250px

As we continue to guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions by principles such as love, loyalty, commitment, and grace, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to keep apathy out of our homes and build a strong family foundation that is critical to effectively addressing the challenges we all face outside of our homes.

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