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Get into it lion cropped 600 px

The title of this blog has been my battle cry for more than a decade. It comes from the book Whistle While You Work: Heeding Your Life’s Calling by Richard Leider and David Shapiro.

In the introduction, Leider tells the story of an Outward Bound trip to Africa. One day, they planned to hike across the Salei Plains and meet their truck on the other side that evening.

They walked through tall grass called lion grass because lions like to stalk prey in it. Suddenly, one of the group members dropped to the ground. He’d seen a lion and was freaked out. The dangers of their current position hit him, and he refused to go on.

The guide told him that he must go on. There is nowhere to go back to. The truck was ahead of them. Reason did not work, and the man still refused to go on.

The guide leaned down and said, “We have a motto at Outward Bound precisely for this sort of situation: ‘If you can’t get out of it, get into it!’”

Honestly, how many times do we find ourselves in situations that we don’t want to be in? My answer is “Plenty!” Some situations I have gotten myself into: I’ve taken on a volunteer job that I don’t like or have agreed to do a project that turns into a monster. Other situations have been thrust upon me by circumstances beyond my control. Either way, there hasn’t been an immediate way out.

For example, let’s say that my organization changes a process and I do not like the new way. I can’t change it; it’s a done deal. I could quit, but I like the rest of my job. I could grouse and cultivate a negative attitude, which doesn’t do anything for my mental and physical health. It also doesn’t do anyone else any good.

If we can’t get out of it, why not get into it? I am going to do the action anyway, so why not give it my all with a positive attitude? It uses way fewer of my emotional pennies and the emotional pennies of those around me.

In truth, every experience in life enriches us and teaches us something about ourselves. It’s better to go all in. We want to stop resisting and give it our best shot. When we can, we want to get out of the situation, but until then, our best choice is to truly get into it. We can also be grateful that most of our challenging situations don’t involve being stalked by a lion!

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