“I can learn to resist
anything but temptation…
I can learn to compromise
anything but my desires…”
[Lyrics from “Resist” by the rock band Rush, written by Neil Peart]
Yes, I am a closet Rush fan, a holdover from my high school days. A Canadian trio that wrote so many songs from my past – songs like “Tom Sawyer”, “Red Barchetta”, and “Subdivisions”. If you grew up in the 80s you know exactly what I mean. If you didn’t, bear with me – it’s the lyrics not the music that defined this rock band. And this one packs a punch.
At any rate, I was on my morning run the other day when this song came across my iTunes playlist. I often use my morning runs as an opportunity to reflect on things (that is, when I can get a run in – which isn’t nearly as much these days). Some runs consume my thoughts with my personal life; others with work. But they all carry a theme – allowing me the time to focus on what’s important, and what I can impact.
And what’s funny is that I often run with music. Not that I actually hear the music, but the noise provides the distraction that allows me that focus.
But this morning was different. My mind was dancing with thoughts: Problems at work, my father’s recovery, my mother-in-law’s fight with Parkinson’s disease, my daughters teenage ‘challenges’, even my frustration with my own travel schedule. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t find my grove. That is, until this song came on.
“I can learn to resist, anything but temptation”. “I can learn to compromise anything but my desire”. How deep are those words? The song goes on with phrases like “I can learn to get along with all the things I can’t explain”.
How many of us are guilty of that? How often are we willing to do what is ‘easy’ so long as it doesn’t ‘put us out’. Or to agree to help someone because ‘I was already doing it anyway’. Or worse, we do our jobs with the minimal amount of effort ‘just to get by’. Where is the give if there is nothing sacrificed? What is the gain if there was never any effort?
I see this so often today in business and leadership that it truly scares me. We live in a ‘me’ world , one in which WIIFM (what’s in it for me) is such a commonly used acronym that you probably knew what it meant without my parenthetic. Using blame and excuses to justify moderate effort. Individuals more interested in when they will be promoted than whether the team is successful. Project teams or branches more concerned with their own success than that of their peers. Lines of business that behave in ways that isn’t considerate or constructive to the others. And countries that lose sight of the bigger picture of what’s best for the company.
This is not meant to be an indictment of any one person or team. We are all EQUALLY guilty, and I will stand at the front of that line! Rather it is meant to suggest there is more to be gained, more progress to be made, and more success to be had if we just learned to ‘Resist’ a little less.
I’ll close with these last lyrics from the same song:
“You can surrender
Without a prayer
But never really pray
Pray without surrender
“You can fight
Fight without ever winning
But never ever win
Without a fight”
Question is, who are we fighting? Maybe its ourselves…
Great lyrics! One of my key hiring criteria for any role is whether or not the individual is willing to “go the extra mile.” We designed our process around ensuring that only self-motivated, enthusiastic team members made it through, and I was blessed to work with a fabulous team. Perhaps it is in choosing the right thing to resist — i.e. “just enough to get by,” mediocrity, groupthink… — rather than eliminating resistance altogether — that will propel team success.
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