When George B. McClellan took over the Army of the Potomac in 1862, he could not believe how disorganized and unprofessional the men were. They did not report to their posts, most had no training of any kind, and a lot of them were drunk. In a rather short period of time, McClellan trained them, gave them new shiny uniforms, and made them proud. He told them that he felt towards them as a father feels towards his children, and he told them that he was going to take care of them.
The problem, of course, is that these men were not just “sons.” They were men who needed to go to the Confederate States and do some fighting. They had to be risked. That was what they had volunteered for. But McClellan was not interested in seeing his men cut to pieces. Instead he had them dig trenches. He waited, telling Lincoln and others in DC that the force he was facing was too big (he actually had a force that far outnumbered anything the Confederacy could muster). Unfortunately, McClellan and his men could only win the war and reap the rewards if they did what they most did not want to do. They had to go out and let people shoot at them. They had to shoot back. The war could not be won until the war had officially begun.
In life, we often must take steps that we greatly fear or that we greatly regret we have to take. These things stand in our way, preventing us from reaching the end that we ultimately are hoping for. Getting the job of your dreams means that you have to go to your boss, who you really adore, and hand him/her your resignation. Allowing your child to grow up may mean letting them participate in the wackiness that can be the public school system. Going on a big trip may mean skimping and saving on other things for a long time. Saving a life may mean risking your own.
How do you decide to plow ahead through these steps you fear, these steps you really do not want to take? You must ask yourself if what you are striving for is worth the sacrifice. General Ulysses S. Grant didn’t want to see his men die, but more than that, he didn’t want the war to languish on. He wanted the Union to win and he wanted to speed up the process. To make that happen he sacrificed many lives. Rosa Parks didn’t want to get arrested or abused, but it was more important to her at that time to take a stand by staying seated. Is what you are striving for worth that turmoil?
The second question to ask yourself is how you can prepare for the steps you do not want to take. Who can you call on for reinforcements? How can you lessen the blow? How can you reduce the strain those steps will take on you? Strategizing almost always makes things appear less scary. Knowing there is an end-game will help you endure.
What are you stopping yourself from doing in the face of steps you do not want to take? How can you overcome that hesitation to get where you want – or need – to go?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/3390811498/ via Creative Commons