How many times have we seen people leave their current situation in search of “greener grass” only to later express the disappointed realization that Reality wasn’t as nice as the imagined version. How many times have we been that person? Inevitably, somebody sagely intones the ancient wisdom of the bromide “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” In doing so, the lesson we are telling those people (or they are telling us) is the lesson of Contentment:
- Contentment isn’t a function of Circumstance;
- Contentment is a choice.
It is sound advice, and wise counsel worth taking to heart. It is also often insufficient, because settling into contentment without committing to improvement at the same time leads to the Stagnation of Mediocrity.
Enter Ben Callahan, President and founder of Sparkbox (a web-developing dynamo of a startup located in Dayton, OH). Speaking recently to a group of local entrepreneurs, Ben shared his experience on the ups and downs of building a business from nothing. In doing so, Ben offered this wonderfully insightful bit of mind-starting wisdom:
“Forget the ‘other side.’ The grass is greener where you water it.”
As with most puzzles, the answer seems so obvious once somebody else points it out … and yet this insight feels so novel even as the counsel against searching for greener grass is a well-worn cliche. Why?
Because of two little words: hard work. Watering the grass of your current situation as Ben describes it requires raw emotional labor … the kind of hard work that makes the prospect of leaving and finding a better situation so tempting in the first place:
- It takes hard work to water the grass of Joy in the marriage you have rather than leave and search for a person who is a better “fit” than the one you once thought was “The One;”
- It takes hard work to water the grass of Impact in the role you are in rather than leave and search for a job that gives you more chances to be noticed;
- It takes hard work to water the grass of Health in your organization rather than leave and let someone else clean up the mess, especially when leaving pays so handsomely.
To lead is to serve, and both require hard work given to address the needs expressed by others. If the proverbial grass beneath your feet is growing more yellow and dry by the day, don’t walk away — water it:
- soak your marriage in Sacrificial Love;
- soak your job in Extraordinary Excellence;
- soak your organization in Sincere Empathy.
Want to leave a legacy? Find a desert and make it bloom.