The Bird in the Window. How can giving up be good
When is a good time to give up? Tough question, especially with all the self-help books, courses and gurus out there preaching to never give up. Well, I think they might all be wrong.
As I was walking this morning in silence, a sound first caught my attention and then the peripheral sight completed the picture with something moving. It was a bird trying to fly through a window. In fact, there were 3 windows she was trying to fly through, one by one.
I stopped and started to watch her persistently trying each window, every couple of seconds. As you can see from the photos I took, there are visible signs that stand witnesses of her hundreds or maybe thousands of attempts. Who knows for how long she was trying the impossible?
Consequently, I started reflecting on this picture. How many times have I insisted, narrow-minded, to fly through only 3 windows, without considering other options? How many times have I been so sure of my beliefs, that I closed my mind and haven’t been open to looking for a different perspective, new tools, ideas, and reaching out to people?
There are some words that I tried very hard to erase from my vocabulary and my mind: give up and impossible. I used to think that I should never give up on anything and consider anything is possible. Well, I guess growing up and overcoming so many obstacles, going through cycles of amazing highs and depressing lows, building up companies and teams, breaking through immigration, building a family, having a child, divorce, restarting, has provided so much experience that I can say clearly that both of the words are helpful and I should embrace them.
But Gabe, you are a coach and you work with so many clients – are you also advising them to give up and accepting that impossible is a good approach? No, and yes. First of all, I’m not advising my clients, I’m coaching them (which is a completely different approach) And yes, it is my duty and part of the code of ethics at International Coaching Federation to work with my clients so that they discover new perspectives (and not be stuck banging their heads into 3 windows), help them set healthy boundaries of what is possible and not, develop actionable plans, make clear decisions and much more.
You see, the bird’s goal was not, in fact, to go through the window, but to enter the house – probably something she saw inside caught her attention. It’s just that she couldn’t see other options but to go through the window – because she doesn’t understand that it’s not an empty space, but a transparent material. And secondly, because her brain is not developed enough to make her try to go find an open window or other openings between her and what’s inside.
Going back to giving up and impossible, they can be considered a very good ally in your journey. Weird, eh? Let me explain. It’s about the rules of the game. We’re all living, working, loving, playing in a framework that has some predetermined variables.
The most obvious and certain (so far) is our life span. We have a determined timeline of say, maximum 100 years if all goes well, to achieve everything that we set out to. Just under this consideration, what if you keep trying the same thing, over and over again – without seeing any progress – for 80 years. Does this make sense? Even if you somehow succeed, you’d be probably over 90 years old. What if you don’t succeed? You don’t have another 80 years to continue.
Everything changes so much, so fast that if you’re stuck for too long and not adapting, unlearning and learning, challenging your beliefs, looking for new angles, tools and resources, the chances are you can become so stuck that you’ll be left behind in the evolution process and unable to rebound in a timely manner.
I see often people that overvalue the meaning of insisting even when there is no current or foreseeable progress, just because of society praising persistency as a concept. At the same, they massively undervalue their potential for new ideas, insights, perspectives, mainly because it’s more comfortable to stay on the hamster wheel (even if it doesn’t make sense) than to start changing.
Being persistent is critical for making progress – when is practical to do so. Being flexible and open is not only practical but is an essential and healthy ingredient required for evolution and ultimately, for survival.
I’m here when you want to have a chat on clarity, goals, actionable plans and any area of your life that you want to focus on. I now work exclusively via zoom/phone so we can work even if you’re on a boat in Thailand 🙂