My wife and I have a pond on our country homesite. We excavated the pond when we had our home built about 7 years ago. We didn’t do anything special around the shore of the pond during all that time. However, there has been some erosion of the soil that would eventually be unsightly, unstable, dangerous, or, just plain undesirable. So, we took on a project to “shore up” the bank of the pond with native rocks we harvested from the rocky soil in our neighborhood. The photo illustrates our project.
As I think about our project, it occurred to me that there are many aspects of our lives and careers that occasionally need a “shoring up” project or effort. The term “shore up” has been around for centuries. Reportedly, it was first used in 1340 to describe the use of a timber or beam to support the sides of a structure. Dictionaries use terms like “prop up” or “support” to define the term.
There are three aspects of “shoring up” some aspect of our life that we anticipate could be at risk:
- Proactive – To shore up something is proactive, not reactive. You cannot shore up something that has already failed or collapsed. Before you shore up something, you have already recognized the risks associated with its failure. Thus, you take action to remediate those risks.
- Preventive – To prop up or support something is always done before more severe damage occurs. You shore up a structure to prevent it from collapsing. Likewise, you shore up something to prevent damage that might be otherwise irreversible.
- Preparatory – You shore up something as a preparatory action for some potential impending risk or danger. Why take the time to shore up or secure a structure that you know will never face adversity. Anticipating potential risks often lead to action to prepare and neutralize the potential harm.
So, what should we consider “shoring up” in our lives? I can think of five key areas to consider. Let’s look at each and consider if some proactive/preventive/preparatory work is needed:
SKILLS – There is never a point in your life or career that sharpening or learning new skills is inappropriate. In today’s highly technical age, learning new skills is essential to simply keep up with the latest in smart phone technology. As an added benefit, when we adopt a continuous learning approach, we tend to stay mentally alert and productive. Why not consider “shoring up” your skill base by learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument, starting a blog, adopting a new hobby, or embracing an educational challenge? Unless we work to prop up or support the skills we already have, we may find ourselves obsolete in our ability to properly function in the world or our society. Besides, learning something new is fun.
CAREER – Likewise, today’s workplace is significantly different than it was a few years or decades ago. I am astonished at the pace of change that has occurred during the four decades of my own work career. It is imperative that we frequently shore up our “personal portfolio” to make ourselves relevant in a changing work world. We cannot assume that companies will have your best career interests in mind, so you must manage your own career. This involves creating a broad and deep network of individuals that you know and can lean upon. You must also stay abreast of advances in your technical/work field and anticipate change that will impact your job. It involves being constantly vigilant for new opportunities and ways to expand your skills and capabilities. It involves being proactive, preventive, and preparatory as you look to the remaining years of your career. Don’t assume you will be doing the same job next year that you are doing now. Today is the time to begin your preparation.
RELATIONSHIPS – Those that believe you can successfully navigate through life, work, or play without meaningful relationships are simply deceiving themselves. The treasures of life are not in the money, cars, homes, jewelry, titles, power, or accomplishments of life. These are fleeting and empty, in the end. I count my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and teammates as the true treasures of my own life. We must nurture these relationships constantly. Without frequent “shoring up”, it is possible that even the best of relationships can dry up or wither away. Time has a way or eroding the shore of our relationship pool. Take the time to re-establish or strengthen those treasures you already have. And, there is no better day than today to become a prospector for new treasures.
HEALTH – It is very tempting in life to become so consumed by our routine day-by-day activities that we never make time to “shore up” our own health. I have known several individuals that always planned to get a complete health physical exam, but put it off until it was too late. Shoring up your own health is nothing more that being proactive/preventive/preparatory for our own good. If you have not had a physical exam in the last two years, consider scheduling an appointment today. If you are over 50 and have never had a colonoscopy, get it done! Colon cancer is almost completely preventable if you have regular exams. Take steps now to prevent diabetes that afflicts so many. Conduct regular breast self-exams. Begin walking, biking, or some other exercise. Make some needed changes to your diet. Do something to enhance your own health before you wish you had.
ATTITUDE – Finally, take a look at your own attitude. Someone once said, “A good day is measured not by what happens to you, but by how you react to those things that happened.” Have you developed an attitude that is negative, ungrateful, defensive, withdrawn, or antagonistic? Are you an encourager or a discourager? You can tell by how others feel after an encounter with you – do you lift them up or drag them down? Are you a can-do person or do you look for an excuse why something cannot be done? Today is the best day in all of history to shore up your attitude and make needed changes. It not only will make you and others feel better, but it may actually enhance an important aspect of your life, career, relationships, or health.
What do you need to “shore up” today? What part of your life could be harmed or damaged if you fail to take action proactively? Where is the erosion of your life that needs some preventive care? How do you need to prepare today for the risk or opportunity that may come tomorrow? Today is a day for action that could mean the difference for the rest of your life.
Thanks for what you do to make this a better world. And, remember that “this could be your best day yet – there is still a chance.”