I watched the sun rise this morning. I had embarked on a 5-mile lake-loop trail run before dawn and now admiringly observed the cold, dark sky disappear into a swallow of pale yellow light. As I rounded each corner of the long-traversed trail, I began to view more and more of the passage ahead of me. The dirt persistently provided more detail to its texture and consistency with the growing sun. I wondered to myself if this too is how life and business are. The longer you exist in either, the more you see the details which will eventually become strikingly clear as the brightest star rises higher in the sky. And these details, like a jagged rock or a muddy slick on a jogging path, may not be beneficial.
Feeling an endorphin-spiked runner’s high, my thoughts continued to the challenges I face as a business owner as well as in everyday life. 2016 was a tough year; posing unprecedented challenges in which I had to make numerous difficult decisions, both in business and personally. A regular champion of confrontation I had been – I told myself. But after removing the self-congratulatory pat from my back, I wondered, ‘Had I resolved all obvious issues?’ Weren’t there problems in the road ahead that remained to which I am being willingly oblivious, keeping myself in the dark, shaded to the reality of situations that are harmful in the long run?
Passing the halfway point of my amble, and with the bright-orange ball of daylight now peaking over the trees, I thought about friends and colleagues of mine whom I know too are ignoring the spotlight that glares on their own controversy. They, like me have allowed obvious imperfections to ferment. We all have tolerated a negligent advisor, a rude client, a dispassionate employee, or a troubled vendor. Beyond that, we have stood idly by as bad friends and problematic significant others step all over us. And the question is, why do we do this?
I believe we passively tolerate these obvious failings because we convince ourselves that we just don’t have time for it as we have bigger concerns at hand. Or because the subject in question used to perform well, and we blindly believe that this glory will return. We do it because frankly it’s easier to avoid confrontation. Maybe we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; don’t want to be the bad guy. We don’t want to admit that the situation is broken beyond repair, even though we should. Even though we know both sides are better off if we just…
I feel this is one of the hardest, but most crucial things we all need to do. We limit our own potential by tethering ourselves to positions that don’t help us grow personally or professionally.
Normally a fanatic of the early morning deer I see on the lake-trail; this morning I question their spirit. I had seen two deer on my first lap, but as is typical they were now long-gone with the mounting sunlight. I thought it odd how you only encounter deer at dusk or dawn. Did they disappear at first light, afraid to see their flaws just like us? Did they retreat beneath the dark wooded canopy where life was again without ambiguity or error? Remembering my C- average in high school science and my overall ignorance of mammalian habits, I thought probably not, but that’s how it seems to me….I digress.
I entered the final leg of my morning journey in a sprint. The sun now shined brilliantly, fully exposing the well-worn trail. Puddles, overgrown roots, even litter from a careless jogger the previous evening. I related it to my own life. I had done well in 2016, but can I do even better this year? Can I clearly see what the light reveals?