The Power of Follow-Through

The Power of Follow-Through
This past week I was reminded of the vital role played by long-term vision in our ability to complete major challenges. Whether it’s leaving an unfulfilling job or taking on a new level of relationship commitment, we can all too easily become overwhelmed when we forget the larger picture and focus on the immediate obstacle itself. Losing sight of the motivation that has brought us to this moment leads our thoughts inward to basic insecurities: “What will happen to me?” “This is going to change everything as I know it.” No matter that up to this moment you’ve wanted to change “everything as you know it” for every waking moment of the day over the past 6 months.

The Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa writes about the importance of knowing when to strike through the mind games we play on ourselves in The Myth of Freedom:

 When we begin to play this kind of game, there is no room. Out! It is said in the tantric tradition that, if you do not destroy when necessary you are breaking the vow of compassion which actually commits you to destroying frivolousness. Therefore, keeping to the path does not necessarily mean only living to be good and not offending anyone; it does not mean that, if someone obstructs our paths we should try to be polite to them and say please and thank you. That does not work, that is not the point. If anyone gets abruptly in our path, we just push them out because their intrusion was frivolous.

When you find yourself developing cold feet in the face of big change, find out what happens when you focus on your larger objective: can you see beyond the immediate obstacle to the follow-through and completion of your action? Think of a karate sensei preparing to break through a 2 1/2-inch clay brick by focusing on a spot beyond the brick itself. There are few faster ways of doing your hand real damage than by aiming it directly at a brick. As Curtis Rist writes in Discover Magazine, “Karate students must learn that for a strike to have maximum momentum, it must have a follow-through; golf and tennis players follow through with their swings for the same reason”. It’s a strategy that can be extremely effective in cutting through the obstacles blocking your way to what you want further down the road.

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