Archived Story

Jessica Sieff: Practice your push-ups

Published 11:43pm Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It’s funny … a message will get to you one way or another.
Try not to hear it and it will still find its way to right in front of your face. It’ll slip around the ear when you’re hoping to avoid it. Even when we are silent, we send messages through our body language, our facial expressions. Messages that are loud and clear.
We’re coming up on the High Holy days in my faith, which begin with the Jewish New Year and as I often do, I look for some sort of relevant message to guide me through each year.
Last week, on vacation in Texas, my sister-in-law and I sat on the floor of the gym she and my brother are loyal to and where she coaches classes.
This year I have tried to make exercise a priority and I have to say that in print because it’s been two weeks, some travel and a serious sinus/cold cluster since I’ve had a real workout and now that it’s in print I will have to get back into my routine.
We talked over form and routine and other things, my sister-in-law and I and she asked me, “how are your push-ups?”
“Ugh, I hate them,” I said. “I never do them.”
“Then that’s what you need to do,” she said. “Don’t just work what you’re good at.”
I’m still not looking forward to the push-ups.
Monday night at Lake Michigan College’s Bertrand Crossings Campus, when speaker Michael Hingson began talking about his experiences being visually impaired, he explained how he quickly realized he needed to develop his other senses in all matters of daily life to make up for where the ability of sight was unavailable. Later, he challenged everyone else in the room to try operating with the lights off.
Don’t rest on your laurels; work on your weaknesses. It’s not a new message, necessarily.
But this year it seems even more poignant in all aspects of our society.
Sometimes it’s not always about doing what you know how to do well, it’s about learning how to do what you don’t know how to do well and getting better at it.
We hear a lot about how our governments have to balance budgets, do less with more; our schools are being forced to do the same. I wonder what they might come up with if they turned off the lights?
Every day we have to ask ourselves that question. What makes us nervous? What scares us? Where’s the edge of our comfort zone? What are we not good at? If we ask those questions and then set about working on it, I wonder what the result might be.
We have good schools, good people, good businesses. That’s not the question. The question is, what’s not being worked? Is it visibility? Frugality? Organization? Innovation? Repetitiveness often leads to a wearing out. And if things aren’t getting any better, if your finances aren’t quite efficient, if your outlook hasn’t changed in 20 years, it’s time to work on your ability to adapt. Because odds are, you’re not.
From businesses who maybe aren’t seeing an influx of customers but don’t do much to step outside their storefronts and reach out to them, to school officials and teachers who need to look to new methods not just of teaching or budgeting but of negotiating for a strong, vibrant school system.
Odds are, if it’s something you’re not doing — not growing, not changing, not adapting —it will become clear. And everyone will get the message.
That’s the message I’m going to try and focus on, anyway, in this coming year. I’m going to try and find my low points — and push up.

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