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Don Dalrymple
Management Consultant
Austin, Texas
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Prospering Without Cleanup Duty

You are either pursuing a sophisticated life or a simple one.  To grow your business requires the messy realities of problem solving, relationships and financial challenges.  Prosperity does not come without a price.

Written Mar 31, 2008, read 1536 times since then.
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“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”

This is a proverb of the famed King Solomon. He is speaking about two types of mindsets in life – those who want a clean trough and those who want increase. Everything you and I are doing in life is about pursuing our happiness. The question is what mindset and method we are employing. As our world increases in complexity, speed and innovation, we have a choice by which we will engage.

Clean Troughs

Oxen need to be fed and cared for on a farm. They eat from a trough known as a manger. The slop, hassle and upkeep of a manger requires vigilance and work. Thus, the trade-off is that the work of upkeep is rendered in exchange for the work of increase by the oxen. It is a form of leverage towards greater gain.

In business coaching, one of the most frequent responses to what is holding a person back from what they truly want is fear. Over time, I have learned the fear is often related to avoiding messy troughs. I had a conversation with a person recently who agreed with our message to grow and increase their value; however, something was holding them back. As I continued asking questions, it was apparent that the invitation I extended did not fit in the life they are trying to create. While they long for the rewards and excitement of growing themselves and a business, their entire life was about creating clean troughs.

Messy troughs include an array of inconveniences. If you are like the tiger in the zoo, you are used to regimented meals delivered conveniently. A conditioning has taken place. The portions, timing and quality of food become expected. The need to hunt has been eliminated and domestication has overtaken the vicious animal’s instincts. There is a tiger in all of us. However, the thought of missing a meal (a.k.a. paycheck) is inconceivable, especially after years of the routine.

In addition, the lives we shape become increasingly domesticated as an end in itself. We keep a set of relationships that are convenient rather than challenging. A friend who pushes into our thinking may not be a friend for long. They create a messy trough which we are seeking desperately to keep clean.

Much Increase

If our happiness is defined as ensuring our intravenous supply of comfort is not disrupted, then everything we do will be managed towards simplicity. Keeping our relationships free of conflict and our finances free from variation will be our chief aim. Everyone wants the rewards of success. However, once a price is named, I get the privilege of seeing who is for real about it quickly. People that are for real pay the price to get the reward; people who are not for real use words without commitment.

The few who have defined happiness in terms of how they are growing and living into their passion do not flinch at messy troughs. Messy troughs are part of much increase. The journey promises increased complexity and sophistication. It requires us to become more to fit the reality of growth. Failures and adversity inevitably await because the territory is new. Business is about people making things happen together. If your aim is making sure everyone likes you and there is not misunderstanding or conflict, then the journey will become disillusioning. Messy relationships are part of the trough feed. If your aim is to never disrupt cash flow, then you will become disillusioned. Much increase often comes from delayed, but highly rewarding, gratification.

I have a messy trough by choice because my pursuit is focused on much increase. It requires me to become more complex, sophisticated and resilient. My happiness is in fulfilling what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “The formation of one’s character ought to be everyone’s chief aim.” He has to say this because there is always a deficit of people stepping into this altruism.

This day, think about what your chief aim in life is. If it is towards clean troughs, it may be hard to truly admit this to yourself. The quick way to find out is by asking yourself, “What price am I willing to pay right now to get more increase in my life?” Prosperity in any area of your life does not come without cleanup duty. Take action.

Learn more about the author, Don Dalrymple.

Comment on this article

  • local search optimization, author, editor, publisher 
Bainbridge Island, Washington 
Shannon Evans
    Posted by Shannon Evans, Bainbridge Island, Washington | Apr 07, 2008

    This is a thought provoking piece. Success has a price that many are not willing to pay.

  • Blogger, Social Venture Consultant 
Amityville, New York 
Gerry Vazquez
    Posted by Gerry Vazquez, Amityville, New York | Apr 08, 2008

    Wise and powerful message.