“You need to have an iron rear to sit upon a cactus, or otherwise, at least a year of very painful practice.” Jack Prelutsky
Agreed, wise poet, agreed. Inevitably, during our lives, we will face many “cactuses” (or “cacti” if you prefer). Some big some small. It might be developing a new skill. Maybe it’s our first year with a new job. Or a complicated relationship. Maybe it’s a matter of health or wealth or something we need to change. Whatever the prickly situation, as a comedian once observed, “cactuses are always sort of flipping us off.” But we must remember this: no one gets stronger and wiser without outsmarting cactuses.
Prelutsky’s poem reveals important perspectives on how to face life’s difficulties. Which is better: the “iron rear” or “the year?” And that, my friend, is the crux. When faced with obstacles and challenges, we must all answer this ourselves. Based on my experience, some tips (pun intended).
- Determine if it’s really a cactus. Maybe it’s not as thorny as first imagined?
- Prioritize your cactuses. Which one first and why?
- There’s no such thing as an iron rear. Sure, there may be an easy way, maybe cutting corners is possible, but these are often temporary solutions. Remember “no pain, no gain.”
- Admit defeat and withdraw. Like a fortune cookie once advised me: “Stop procrastinating starting tomorrow.” This is an understandably popular option because there’s no conflict but there are still consequences plus, by giving up, there’s zero personal growth.
- Suck it up and go for the year. It may be the only way. But remember the key word in Prelutsky’s clever poem: practice. Practice is not just repetition. Don’t practice on autopilot, or like a broken record. Instead, make minor changes each time. Problem solve. It’s all about trial-error-adjust-try again and repeat. Strengthen your assets. Trim the problem down into manageable sections. Expect some pain and increase your tolerance. Invest in Band-Aids if necessary but get comfortable with tearing them off. Persevere. Prove the pricks wrong. Grow. And don’t face cactuses alone. Get encouragement and feedback on your process and progress. Finally, no matter the outcome, share your cactus stories; even the unsuccessful attempts may harbor the words someone else needs to hear. And most importantly, help others navigate through their battles.