Quiet Strength


“These boots are made for walkin’ … and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over YOU!”

It’s not just Nancy Sinatra’s sexy white 1950s boots you have to worry about. Others want to walk all over you as well. Have you noticed?

Just by writing these words, I’m having an experience similar to what Dr. Raymond Moody talked about. Moody is a physician who studied people with near-death experiences. He found that people who died and “came back” often had a similar experience of “going into the light” and finding what amounted to a visual film festival of their life.

I can relate. The details of the situations where people walked all over me with their boots are way too easy to recall.

Here’s the funny thing about folks who push your boundaries: You LET them do this to you. Especially if it happens more than once.

That’s what happens when non-negotiables are allowed to become negotiable.

Here’s the thing. The quality of your life directly correlates to how well you “call tight” the non-negotiables in your life. The more loosey-goosey you are about what’s non-negotiable, the more sand you can expect to have kicked in your face.

So, are you a wimp?

Let’s see. Your toddler asked for and receives water more than seven times in one night; then it happens the next night too. Yep. That counts. You are a wimp.

Your colleague does part of her work without much attention to detail and then hands it off to you to “make sure it is accurate.” So, you spend two extra hours at the office reviewing, correcting and completing her project. It’s not that you shouldn’t step up and “give” freely at work. It’s that she repeatedly slacks off and makes her problem your problem. Score one for the sand kickers.

Your team members don’t do what they committed to do, so the entire project is delayed. All of you risk losing your bonuses. Instead of asking everyone for a commitment so they catch up, you camp in the office for the weekend all by YOURSELF. Bring on those boots!

Enough already! You want to live your life leaping over tall buildings with a single bound and creating kick-butt results. Yes, that sometimes means “stepping up” to help others get the job done. But there comes a point when it’s time to get the people around you to start leaping with you.

The answer? Non-negotiables.

Non-negotiables are clear, AND they define what happens if the non-negotiable is violated.

At work, it could look like:

  • “Get your sales funnel report in by 3 p.m. every Friday or your commissions won’t be paid until the following month. Miss it more than once per quarter, and your commissions will take a 30 percent hit.”
  • Zero tolerance for talking about the company’s or clients’ private information outside of work. You talk, you walk.
  • This is a no-gossip workplace. If you have a problem with someone, talk to that person about it. Immediately.
    NO whining to others. Violate this fundamental rule, and you will be invited to “free up your future.”

These non-negotiables work at home, too:

  • “If you are even one minute late for your 11 p.m. curfew, no personal use of the car for a month.”
  • “Daddy only reads the bedtime books after ALL the toys are put back in the toy box.”

And then there are the serious ones that REALLY destroy lives if not met:

  • “If you choose to continue to drink or come home after drinking, you will move out immediately.”
  • “You will never hit me twice, because you’ll never see me after the first time.”
  • “If you continue to violate the procedures or miss the outcomes of your job and put the success of our company at risk as a result, you will need to leave.”

Our boundaries define our results and our results define whether our lives work or not. Be clear regarding your boundaries and let those around you know what you expect.

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