Tuesday, March 4, 2014

wisdom of the wolf

there's an ad campaign using billboards around town focused on character, integrity, commitment, determination.  all those qualities we know to be desirable, admirable.  the ads feature people such as lincoln, churchill, edison, einstein.  the ads have few words, all about character.
one of those billboards challenges me.
the photograph is of winston churchill, and the words are this:  never, never, never give up.
while I'm completely in agreement with this, it's also terrible advice.
sometimes the best thing to do is to give up.

one of the lines in my book about wolves speaks to their nature:
a wolf won't give up until the only thing to do is give up.
this is the best way to prove your mettle, demonstrate character;  this is a better way to be tenacious.

tenacity is the ability to hold on, remain committed, follow through on an idea, a promise, a task or assignment.  it's the trait we access when we ride our bike up a big hill, or on a century ride, or on a trainer through a difficult workout.  it's what churchill was speaking of.  never give up, make it, complete your task, don't be swayed by enticements, naysayers, distractions that might pull you from your path.
but at some point, your inner wisdom might send you messages that it's possible your best option is to fold in the towel.
sometimes the only thing to do is give up.

when? you ask.  I've been taught to follow through, to not give up.
the answer:  when the "giving up" is on a specific task, not the dream.

  • sometimes the tasks we assign ourselves are ill advised, but we don't figure that out until we're well into them.
  • sometimes our tasks take the focus away from the dream, which we don't realize until later.
  • sometimes a task drains us so completely that we lose sight of our dream.
  • sometimes our task is a step toward our dream, but seductive, waylaying us.
  • sometimes we accept tasks that others think we should do, but they don't further our own progress toward our dream.

sometimes it's okay to give up.
what's important is that we understand why we began, what we're doing, and how it is affecting us . . . and how it is helping or hindering us along the way.  all things that take awareness, insight, thoughtfulness to determine.

when a wolf begins hunting an elk, he is whole-heartedly committed.  when he starts getting kicked in the head, in the ribs, he has to reassess.  if he can't get his jaws on the haunches, on the neck, and keeps getting kicked, he might reconsider his decision.  when the elk is inflicting more pain than the wolf, it's probably time for that wolf to give up.  most will.  and those that don't, usually die.

so, take churchill's words to heart.  never give up on your dreams, your principles, your character, those things that drive you, shape you, fuel you, make you who you are.
but remember that sometimes--when it's necessary for you--it's better to give up.
when the only thing to do is to give up, give up.

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