Standing on Shoulders (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 322)
“Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.”
— Mitch Albom
Much of our success in life is a result of our standing on the shoulders of other people. Likewise, much of the success of the people around us will come about because we are willing to let them stand on our shoulders too. Sacrifice is one of the most important qualities one can possess. If you never learn to give up some things, you’ll never be able to gain better things.
Every worthy dream or goal is an uphill battle. Whether you aim to improve your personal or professional life or you want to lose weight or make a better employee or leader, achievement will never be easy. To obtain the things we really want requires us to give up some things we no longer need. Sometimes, this means giving up an old habit, cut expenses, and even losing a little money at times.
No matter what profession you are in, you need to be aware that sacrifice is important in almost every area of life. The decisions we face on a daily basis almost always include some level of giving up something in order to gain something better. Life is about balancing the scales of giving up and gaining. If we’re constantly gaining or giving up but not doing both, we may fail to grow in the most important parts of our lives.
A good example of sacrifice is parenting. Good parents will often stay up late helping a child with homework, get up early to ensure their kids are ready for school, refuse to go on two-weeks vacation or a weekend away in order to be there for their child’s football games and music lessons. Good parents understand that in order for their children to grow and thrive, they have to make sacrifices.
But it isn’t just parents who have to make sacrifices. We all are required to make sacrifices at one point or another in our lives. And most of the time, sacrifice involves other people. It means giving up something in order for someone else to have a better life, a better future, or a better opportunity. We have to make tough choices not just for ourselves, but for other people. Sometimes the sacrifice is simple and even easy, but many times, it is hard and even doubtful right at the start that it was worth it.
Whatever stage you are at in life, be willing to make sacrifices. Sacrifice is the price no one else is willing to pay. It is the unpopular but necessary stand other people are not willing to take. It is the decision that others are unwilling to make. It is the hard and fast choice in the face of uncertainty and even possible defeat. It is enduring the toil and sweat and pain for the greater good. All of this defines sacrifice.
A willingness to sacrifice when it is called for is an embrace of a higher life. Sometimes we tend to think that it is better to not put our life on the line or stick our neck out there especially when the possibility of failure is equal to or greater than the possibility of success. It is probably more that we want to protect our ego or avoid shame than anything else. But vulnerability under the guise of sacrifice actually opens us up to more possibilities if we would just be willing to take the step. True sacrifice is always worth it in the end.
The person you are today is partly a result of the people your parents, friends, family, teachers, coaches, and mentors were yesterday. Who the people around you now become tomorrow will partly be a result of what you do and how you influence them today. Sacrifice is at the center of what it means to be a servant and a leader, what it means to struggle and thrive, and what it means to be wholly devoted to a cause and willing to give when it is needed the most.
“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
— Gaylord Nelson