Recently, I’ve been reading a book called No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. At the end of each chapter, there are Action Exercises—basically a fancy way of saying answer these questions. But, the questions are hard and I’m a teacher. I know a difficult question when I see it!
They’re not hard like quantum physics, but the questions call for deep introspection and you know what happens with difficult questions? Nothing. We ignore them. We make excuses like, “Let me think about that some more and I’ll get back to you later.” Many times we don’t even try. We give up way too soon.
So as an educator, I hate to admit it, but I got to the very first question in chapter one and I said to myself, “Wow, that’s a hard question. I’ll skip this one and go on to question number 2. Hmm, how about question 3?” I went through all seven questions and decided I’d read some more of the book and then go back and answer the questions.
Let me tell you. I’m on chapter 4 and I haven’t answered one, single, solitary question. I’m 21 questions behind!
Because in the words of Brian Tracy, we “take the path of least resistance in search for immediate gratification.” And I totally proved this true. I didn’t want to do the hard work. I wanted the knowledge without actually applying the information.
We all tend to do the same. We want the info without the effort, the knowledge without the struggle and the reward without the payment. What we want is the easy way.
Yet, the easy way will never get you what you desire in life, not in business, not in your health, and most definitely not in your relationships.
Every day our lives are affected by divorce or the break up of a family because we want the easy way. The way where hurt doesn’t affect us, where we don’t have to sacrifice, and where we get without giving. Selfishness is the equivalent of the path of least resistance.
If we are going to have lasting relationships, we must recognize our tendency to seek the fun life, the difficulty-free zone. We have to get past laziness and invest in the ones who matter most.
Our relationships require dedication. They require commitment. All in. For the long-haul. No easy pass. Relationships are tough and you must be equally tough if you’re going to survive.
However, our families should do more than survive. We should thrive.
After all, you put in the hard work to reap something. That something is what you decide you want from your family. It’s answering the hard question that Brian asks, “If your family life were ideal, what would it look like, and what one discipline would help you the most to make it a reality?”
Why is a business book asking this question?
First, he asks the question because if you don’t have a foundation of what you want, you won’t do the hard work to get it. We ask introspective questions to guide our behavior. We must know what our goal is—what we’re working for. Without this answer, we will take the path of least resistance every time.
Second, Brian starts off the book this way because you can’t be truly successful outside your home, if you’re not successful in your home. Home is the foundation that you, your spouse and children build their life on. What happens at home affects everyone and it’s impossible to leave your personal life at home.
If we want to have successful families, we must answer the hard questions and then get to the even harder work—living out the commitment.
Consistent effort will produce the effect you desire. Are you guaranteed success? Of course not. There are no perfect scenarios in life. It’s all a risk. But if you consistently work, you will reap the reward.
In No Excuses, Brian explains that “by acting with character and in harmony with your highest values, you put your entire life (internally and externally) into an upward spiral.” There will be rewards along the path to keep you motivated, knowing your effort is worth it.
Put your family on a positive track towards success. Answer the tough questions, know what you’re working for, commit to the long-haul, and you will find the reward of a strong, successful family. Stay the course. We’re in it together.