Something inside me cringes when someone asks for my advice. Some days I’m totally rockin’ it and other days I’m totally floppin’ it. But whenever someone asks me about a situation, my ears perk up and I’m ready to answer a question with a question, which I know drives some people crazy.
I was recently talking with a friend about dealing with the reality of a situation and how it’s easy to want to run the opposite direction in hopes that we might avoid the frustration, pain, and intensity of the storm. For many of us (as Tiff points her finger to herself), climbing out of a tough situation seems too tall a mountain to climb. This is the way many feel about getting a situation under control once and for all. Notice that I DID NOT say “pay off those debts,” or “get rid of all that clutter,” or “lose the weight that weighs you down,” or “blah, blah, blah.” Really, you can insert any obstacle that you’d like into that space and what I’m going to say will still be relevant. The thing, or “storm”, that we face really isn’t the debt, clutter, or weight is it? Those are just outward manifestations (aka symptoms) of inward disease. But until we take our head out of whatever crevice it likes to be in, we will never see the REAL issue. Doing so takes tenacity, boldness, and dare I say…FORTITUDE.
Enter the buffalo! A little side note is that I first learned about the fortitude of the buffalo a couple years ago, when my gal-pal-Kelley referenced a talk given by Rory Vaden. After that, I kinda-sorta got addicted to learning about buffaloes and that they’re more than just a messy, hairy, and most likely stinky (I’d assume as I don’t know any personally) piece of work. I used to look at them, big and intimidating as they were, and think…yep, I’ve had my fill of looking at a boring old animal. Yes, I’m a bit rude in that way. However, after hearing Kelley talk about them and listening repeatedly to Rory Vaden’s teaching, I have to say that I am in LOVE with the buffalo…and buffalo print plaid but that’s probably not important right now.
In his talk, Rory discusses that Colorado has an area where cows and buffaloes co-exist, I believe in the eastern half of the state. But he contrasts the behavior of cows and buffaloes in the face of a storm…the cow tries to outrun the storm, thereby elongating the time spent in the very storm that they are trying to outrun and maximizing their suffering; the buffalo sees the storm approaching and then turns to run into the storm, thereby minimizing time and suffering. If you get the chance, you can read his post here and watch the video presentation here.
I want to tie this into the area of personal/family finance. I recently wrote about my family’s financial rock bottom, that moment when it seemed like we couldn’t get any lower and how we worked together to improve our situation and attack the very thing that threatened to bring us down as a family. (If you missed it, you can find it here.) The running theme (pun intended!) is that this is the point where we had to decide if we were going to keep being the cow or shift our perspective to becoming the buffalo. Let me tell you, this is not an easy feat and we still have to adjust our ‘tude from time to time…work in progress, right?
At the bottom of one of my first frugal living posts, I give a “bonus” tip but it’s more of a lifestyle tip than anything else. LIVE LIFE PROACTIVELY RATHER THAN REACTIVELY. Of course, life will happen to all of us but it’s how we respond and the mentality that we respond with that matters. This is how I view the cow vs the buffalo: The cow is what I think of as reactive, running away from the thing that would pursue them and as I like to say, “allowing life to HAPPEN TO THEM.” The buffalo tends to stare down/assess the situation, and runs–NO CHARGES–through the storm. I like to think of the buffalo as “HAPPENING TO LIFE.” Instead of waiting for something to come up and then figuring out an escape route, they know exactly where to run and what to do. (A total side note that I’m just going to leave right here is, notice how both travel in herds so think of those you hang around as this is important in the context of your habits. But this is another post for another time.)
Lest I seem unsympathetic to those who have come across a circumstance that ends in tragedy, I am with you and am sad when your heart breaks and mourn with you when you are at a loss.
That being said, I fully understand that some things will happen that are out of our control and that we can’t necessarily anticipate. But we CAN anticipate how we will react to any issue that comes our way. That’s the power of being PROACTIVE!
Now, when one makes the decision to “be the buffalo,” as Rory Vaden terms it, there WILL be kick back. It’s just like when one determines that they are going to get their finances under control, it’s inevitable that SOMETHING will come along that could potentially throw us off track. Just expect something and be prepared to not let it shake you. Your resolve for personal improvement needs to be far greater than any obstacle that would derail you. You have to have FORTITUDE…a conviction that no matter what happens, forward is the only way that you will go and backward is not an option. I have full faith that each and every one of us has the ability to tackle our obstacles head on…and emerge victorious, no matter what that might look like. Sometimes we need to stop and think of what running from looks like and what running through looks like.
It can be scary which is why we typically have a natural inclination to want to run away and not have to face it. But I wonder how much scarier we make it because we just don’t deal with it as soon as possible. Is there something you know is coming that you just don’t want to deal with? I can think of a dozen things: student loans, some extra weight, dishes, laundry…we may laugh but you get the point. Is there something that you’ve had stirring in your heart that you just know will get worse if you don’t deal with it now? If it’s your finances, then you’d just better lock this blog into your favorites list since this tends to be the area in which I LOVE being a cheerleader. If not, then I’d encourage you to find someone you look up to and make a shift in your mentality to becoming the buffalo and stop being the cow. It’s tough, but YOU’RE TOUGHER!
As always, take care and God bless.