The story of the three sticks

January 11, 2021

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess… wait… scrap that. This isn’t that type of blog. This one is about reality. I have to be honest and say I fretted for a bit about what I would post as our first blog. There is only one first after all. Then I remembered my own life lesson and realized we can always do the do-over (download the free e-book to read more!).

This first blog is about The Three Sticks. It is a short one – so more for that shot of espresso versus that venti latte… It packs a punch though, so look at it as a double shot.

Here goes: three sticks were standing by the side of a fast-streaming river. Stick 1 decided to jump in and swim upstream. She peddled and peddled, pumped her arms and legs and kept at it. She made it 100 meters upstream, raised her arms in victory and promptly floated back downstream. So she started swimming again. And again. And again.

Stick 2 looked at her and thought ‘that seems way too much work for very little result’. She decided to jump into the river and let it carry her along. That worked sort of ok, until she would hit a rock or get sucked under by the currents. Bruised and battered she made her way downstream.

Stick 3 had observed both and decided she would take the best out of both worlds – she jumped in and she went with the flow. But she kept her head above the water and spotted things ahead. She would then swim a little to the left or a little to the right to avoid the currents sucking her under; to float around that big rock instead of slamming into it.

The river represents our (working) life. And the sticks, that represents us. I don’t know about you, but I have spent so much time trying to swim upstream. And unfortunately, I have a lot of stamina. Deep in my heart I know I have seen that same stretch of river what seems like a thousand times. I thought if I would just swim hard or long enough I would ‘make it’. I would be seen for my contributions. I would change that senior partners way of behaving. I would move that company culture along. I would turn my husband into an emotionally available man. I just had to work harder at it.

My motto used to be ‘mind over matter’. Well – let me share this part of my journey with you: that is a CRAP motto. That is forcing yourself to work at things you know you are not good it. It is trying to fit in with the boys by becoming like one. It is sticking with that relationship even though you know it will never fulfill your needs. It is never being able to relax because that will take you back to where you were before. It is fooling yourself into believing you can change things that can not be changed.

Now my motto is ‘sometimes when you roll over you get your belly tickled’. Works much better for me. Works for my puppy too by the way. It is not that I never swim upstream anymore. It is more than when I do I recognize it faster and I realize I am exerting effort that really isn’t getting me anywhere useful. The three sticks story helps me pause and think about what I am doing and if it is worth it.

Which stick are you right now? At work or in situations in your personal life?

This is where we share how we Work On Our Terms ourselves. We share the strategies as we apply them in real time, share our free mini-trainings, our most loved books, meditations, obsessions, fresh off the press tips and tricks, and behind-the-scenes snapshots of our weird, wonderful life.

You may also like…

About talent and why it has nothing to do with excel sheets

About talent and why it has nothing to do with excel sheets

When I worked in the corporate world, I associated talent with something outside of me. Talent was the area of ‘talent managers'. People who had long, complicated excel sheets that they were vigorously updating before important leadership team meetings.  Those lists...

6 tips to not just survive but to thrive during a reorganization.

6 tips to not just survive but to thrive during a reorganization.

I think I have ‘survived’ more than 8 reorganizations in my 20 years in the corporate world. And boy – did I learn a LOT from that. If reorg experiences came in different colors I could be painting the rainbow. The whole spectrum! Some I experienced as super...