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A Special Six Pack

Since hanging tough can get exhausting as you turn the page and get on with getting on, here is another six pack to help smooth out the rough spots along the way.

*     Only pursue your rights and your interests within the context of the rights and interests of others.

The first slot in this six pack is reserved for assertiveness. There are those people who try to pawn off their bad attitudes and ugly tempers as assertiveness. They may even use the principle to justify their juvenile efforts to get their own ways, be the center of attention, and to disguise their self-centeredness and insensitivity. “I’m just sticking up for myself, for my rights;” but their ingenuousness is transparent. Their goal is to get theirs whether you get yours or not. In fact, they will be most satisfied if along with getting theirs, they get yours too. Authentic assertiveness is sticking up for yourself and your rights, sure enough; but it’s also being sure you are not hanging tough, no matter what and at someone else’s expense.

*     Play fair as you play to win every time.

Slot two is reserved for fairness. Now, this isn’t one of those “Let’s all be nice little ladies and gentlemen and be sure everyone gets a piece of the cake,” kind of thing. Not everyone wins; life didn’t come with a guarantee; and if you voluntarily climb into the ring with a six hundred pound gorilla, don’t blame the gorilla for what happens. Nonetheless, even a six hundred pound gorilla needs to keep his punches above the belt and be ready to shake your hand when you win by a TKO in the ninth.

*     Be reasonable as you stay open to alternative ideas and points of view.

Slot three is for reasonableness but definitely isn’t a “roll over and play dead” approach. When people say, “Please be reasonable,” as often as not they want you to accept their ideas, buy into their points of view, give more consideration to what they are saying than to what you think. Reasonableness means no more and no less than being open to reason. It means you listen to other people’s ideas, take time to see things from their points of view, see their needs and interests as important, as valuable. Having done this, you then develop your ideas, form your unique point of view, make well-considered decisions, and come to what you believe are the correct conclusions, all things considered.

*     Keep your sights on your goals but remain flexible.

Slot four in this six pack is reserved for flexibility. You already know you don’t just blow with the wind, hop on whatever train happens along, and chameleons may have a good thing going for themselves but certainly won’t win the day in the great shootout at The OK Corral. You also know you stick to your guns, take a stand, and do not let people push you around. All that is true; and equally true is the fact single mindedness eventually turns into bull-headedness, an unwillingness to compromise turns into a “win at any cost” mentality, and sticking to his guns is how the cowboy ended up shooting himself in the foot. It’s also how people miss great opportunities, lose friends, and never have any new ideas or interests.

*     Move ahead cautiously and patiently but move ahead.

Slot five is for patience. This doesn’t mean you sit on your thumbs until something or someone better comes along or opportunities are necessarily like good wine needing time to mature; but it does mean most things are easier to screw up than straighten out. Act too quickly, rush in blindly, not give people a chance to work things out, push most anything or anyone too hard or too fast and you blow it, you turn a slow win into a quick loss.

*     Reach down deep inside and find the tolerance to hang tough when hanging tough is what you have to do.

The last slot in this six pack is reserved for tolerance. Sure, you are tolerant of other people, other ideas, and other points of view. When compared to this brand of tolerance, though, those brands are easy. The tolerance in this slot is very personal and extraordinarily challenging. It’s the tolerance to hang tough when every fiber of your being is screaming to you to aggressively lash out or run away and hide, to walk away when the adrenaline rush is urging you to give that deal just one more throw of the dice, to handle life’s anxieties and ambiguities, to hang tough with firmness and sensitivity as people press you to your limit.

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