The Rewards of Keeping On Keepin' On!

Keeping on keepin’ on ….  To some this means quitting is not an option. To others it means seeing something through despite distractions or roadblocks. To me it means faithfulness.

Exactly what is faithfulness? Some of the dictionary definitions are:
    • Loyalty
    • Steady in allegiance or affection
    • True to one’s words, citizen’s promises, vows
    • Strict or thorough in a responsibility or duty
    • Adhering firmly to a purpose or a cause

For me personally, the road to faithfulness has indeed been a long road. Although I must confess that it was not an easy road, the amazing rewards have been worth every try and fail cycle!

Faithfulness is often easy when everything is going right; when there’s an easy pay off; when we see results on OUR timetable. But it is rarely a “drive-through” experience. Whether it is being faithful to your exercise routine, your sobriety, practicing daily gratitude, doing the boring daily chores at your workplace, or remaining faithful to your committed relationship… faithfulness is often challenging.

So what are the rewards of faithfulness?

  1. Faithfulness builds character

“Character is who we are when no one is watching.” What do we model for others; what do we value; what are the choices we make?

One of the greatest compliments one can be paid is when they are said to be a person of high character. I believe it builds our character to remain true to our word.

At the end of last year, I was conducting a coach training and certification program. I was teaching on the powerful benefits of writing out our gratitude’s daily. It was inspiring to see how the students jumped on board the concept. Some calculated how many gratitude’s they would need to write daily in order to have written 10,000 gratitude’s by the end of the new year.

Recently, one of the students told me that they had begun strong with their gratitude’s but had “fallen off the wagon.”  They said they had noticed that they had begun experiencing more funks again, had developed a sour attitude, and found themselves being quite critical of others. Their concern was that there was no way to catch up to their goal.  I get the concern, but my thought on this is that the number of gratitude’s is not the goal. To me, the greatest value in consciously expressing our gratitude’s comes from being consistent and faithful in the practice.  Setting and accomplishing a goal is a wonderful thing. Being able to say at the end of the year that you had written 10,000 gratitude’s is a wonderful thing. But perhaps just as powerful is the ability to say, “I’m not sure how many total gratitude’s that I have written this year, but I faithfully looked each day for things to be grateful for, and I recorded them.” That is character building.

  2. Faithfulness is the greatest predictor of success.

In study after study, it has been shown that one of the best predictors of success in all areas of life is faithfulness.

Being faithful in making daily deposits to your relationships creates rich and fulfilling relationships. Faithfulness to a healthy lifestyle (in eating, exercise, etc.) creates full health and vibrant energy. Faithfulness to sometimes dull and seemingly meaningless duties at work helps produce success. I’ve heard it said at many HR conferences, that if you would like to hire someone successful for your team, look for evidence of their faithfulness.

  3. Faithfulness creates trust and respect.

Clients and students often ask, “How do I build trust? How do I gain respect?” They are often surprised when I give them what seems to be an unrelated response: be faithful. If someone sees you being faithful to a course of action, to a commitment, to a way of living, it builds great respect and trust.

Years ago I was the director a company’s worldwide training. I did a specific training for their sales force across the globe. My message to them was to be faithful to healthy living choices. I spoke about my daily routines and one thing I always stressed was that I did not consciously eat sugary foods. That devotion always seemed to resonate with people and boosted my credibility.

However, during that time, it came back to me that a couple in a leadership position in the company had developed a bit of disbelief about my “no sugar” claim. (This did not offend me; in any large organization not everyone agrees all the time.) At a large company conference in Branson, Missouri, this issue came up.  (Isn’t it interesting that stuff pops up at the strangest times!) I was at dinner with a group of friends.  The evening was full of fun and laughter. These friends were particularly known for cherishing the end of a meal when they would all order and then share a variety of decadent desserts. In those situations, I often ordered a side salad after my meal so that I could enjoy the desert time too. When the desserts were all served, the “Doubting Thomas’s” approached our table and immediately joined in all the good feeling of the table. When they saw what I was eating, they burst out laughing, “Oh my God! She really does not eat sugar!” At a conference a few months later, the husband introduced me as “one of the most trusted employees of the company.” Interesting. As they say, you never know who’s watching!

  4. Faithfulness heals/enriches relationships.

Relationship research indicates that faithfulness in the little things is one of the key components to long term success. My experience in my practice confirms this.  It’s interesting to see, over and over, how faithfulness to small things can turn the tide when trouble comes.

Several months back I attended a beautiful wedding. One of the most meaningful pieces of the wedding was seeing a younger brother preside over his older brother’s marriage to a beautiful bride. At the wedding, the younger brother had an opportunity to give a toast. One of the things he highlighted was that because of geographical distance through the years, their relationship had also become a bit distant. But in his toast the younger brother looked at his older brother and tearfully said, “You never told me this, but at some point, you were on a mission to reconnect with me. You called even when I did not answer. You texted even though I often failed to respond. I just want you to know that I noticed, and I want you to know that I admire you, because what you have done has brought us closer once again.”

Yes… faithful and regular deposits truly can heal and enrich relationships. Are you faithfully making daily investments into a relationship that is important to you?

  5. Faithfulness sets us up for leadership.

We often think that the person with the most money, or the person who is “the most popular” acquires the most power. While those characteristics are often present, my experience in my practice teaches me that true leadership is created through faithfulness.

The Bible teaches, “If you are faithful over little things, you will be set over much.” And, “He who cannot be faithful over little, cannot be faithful over much.”

True leadership begins with being faithful over small things.

At 13, I got my first babysitting job. My father sat me down and said he was going to tell me some things, and that it didn’t matter to him whether I listened and followed through or whether I ignored him. But, he said, if you want to be successful in life you need to take 10% of that money and give it away. You need to take 10% and save it. And then the rest of it will cover everything you need and more.

I was shocked to hear that from him because he was not necessarily a touchy/feely type of man. But I remember putting 50% of it in the offering at church and the other 50% in my drawer at home. When my father realized I was saving money, he had a second conversation with me. He said that for every dollar I gave him to put into a savings account, he would put in the same amount. I recall asking him why this was so important. He said, “You’re just a scared little girl now, and you will never be a leader unless you practice faithfulness. And no matter how smart you are or are not, or how scared you are or are not, this is your best chance for leadership.” Although it felt horrible to hear my dad say those things at that time, he was right! (No, I’m not suggesting that you talk to your children about their lack of capabilities like this! But hopefully you will teach them about being faithful! LOL!)

One of my most memorable experiences with being faithful (to myself and to a journey) happened several years ago. I had the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a team of scientists and educators. It was a tough journey.  Our team leader choose the Western Breach to the 19,431-foot summit. This is the tough route, not the so-called “Coca Cola” route thousands travel each year. (Had I known all this before I left home, I may have chickened out!) Every day was difficult, sliding backwards in the rainforest, sweating through the alpine desert. But the most difficult day of all was the day we arose at midnight to summit. We had to summit before or near daylight! This was imperative, because after the sun comes up the glaciers you must traverse become so slippery that it is difficult to navigate. Somehow, we were able to make it. Our amazing guide, Julius, (the “ninja” to us!) kept saying to us, “just across this next glacier field you’ll see the top.” I finally realized that Julius was giving us his best motivation.

After the glaciers, we were in scree fields full of loose gravel. You would take three steps forward and slide two steps back. And it felt like there was no oxygen!  One single step created the kind of gasping for air that comes when we’ve had the wind knocked out of us.

I have to admit that with the lack of sleep, the below-zero temperatures, and sliding around on gravel, I felt some discouragement begin to rise up in me. In my research for the climb, I had read about the decrease in brain function in that environment. I knew I had to jump on top of my attitude. So, I changed my self-talk, “All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other. Eventually I’ll get to the top.” Keep on. Keep on. Keep on. I would take a step. Inner celebration. Another step. Inner celebration. Slide backwards. Repeat to myself, “Your setback is a set up for a comeback!”

Sure enough, after hours and hours, I was the first of the team (ok ok, a bit of a brag, but true …!) to pull myself up over the crater rim and stand a top the tallest freestanding mountain in the world! Words cannot describe what occurred internally at that moment!!

Was my success because I was the best trained person there? Absolutely not! I joined the team late and they had already been in training for a year. Was it because I was the strongest member of the team? Certainly not! I was the oldest on the team, and one of two females. Was it because I got a helicopter ride to the summit? LOL! No way!

It was simply because I kept on keeping on! It was not easy. At moments it was not fun. It did not seem natural. It did not seem possible.

But that’s what faithfulness is all about. The analogy to success in relationships is true! Being faithful to important things in your important relationships means everything: when you don’t feel like it, when it’s not easy, when you would rather give up. Keep going!

I recommend that you faithfully do three things:

1. Select the three or four relationships most important to you. Commit to making daily deposits to enrich those relationships. Does it matter what those deposits are? No, just do it! If your partner doesn’t respond; when they upset you; when they don’t do what you wish they would do … be faithful in making those deposits!

2. Select one or two things that you will faithfully practice to enrich your health and energy. Perhaps walking four or five times a week. Perhaps limiting the amount of alcohol you drink. Perhaps eliminating or reducing the intake of certain foods. Whether it’s convenient or not, and whether you want to or not. Watch! Your health and energy will improve!

3. Set aside time daily to reflect on at least three things for which you are grateful. We know that gratitude facilitates heart and brain health. We know that we are our best selves when we express our gratitude. We make our best decisions. We are our most productive.

I believe that developing faithfulness in these three ways will chart a course to great rewards. I know you can do this! I believe you will!