Meaningful Endurance and the Battle of Attrition

By Rebecca Layton Gunter

Meaningful Endurance and
the Battle of Attrition

This is my year of getting my act together. I can feel it. After five years of hustling my own project, I have a big pile of unfettered messes and they have their marching orders.

Coupled with the day-to-day maintenance of life, I’ve got a pretty full plate. I’m writing to-do lists for All-The-Things and crushing it.

  1. Work: blog posts check, branding guide check, marketing plan check
  2. Home: hire a handyman to fix the dishwasher check, clean out the garage check
  3. The kid: Summer camp check, dentist appointment: check, read Harry Potter at bedtime check

check. check. check.

When I am in The Zone, I keep chipping away at punch lists and action items.

My drive to get everything handled in the allotted time has me chasing an elusive, magical thing called “making progress.” When that happens, I am lousy with smug self-satisfaction.


The success of this whole "List-Crushing Thing"
hinges on the razor’s edge of time and resources.

In my mind, there are four origami cranes dancing on the head of a pin: Sisarina, family, practical matters, and me. When each crane’s very important To-Do lists get heavy, the “Me Crane” is always left clinging to the pin for dear life. That shit ain’t right.

Whenever I start to feel the tiny paper talons of the “Me Crane” scratching and slipping for purchase on the ever-so-slightly rounded head of the pin, I know I am in trouble. Too much takeout and not enough timeout. Sleep deprivation and joyless determination.

Overwhelmia settles in and all my good habits go on hiatus.

My boss has a sixth sense for when I am locked in a Battle of Attrition with my To-Do Lists. She can see right through my veneer of grit and positivity with powerful foresight: this train will derail. That’s usually about the time I get a text message from her with direct orders to reprioritize, slow down, take a break, be thoughtful.

Because successful and creative people take care of themselves — joyfully. And she’s always gotta be remindin’ me.

“Don’t try to be me” was the message as I managed the client deliverables — first-time-ever! — while she was away at a 4-day conference. Dang, she’s right. Is it because she knows waaayyy more than me and is the face of Sisarina? Yes. but that’s not even it.

Melanie Spring has endurance.

She’s been training to crush to-do lists, live life fully, and make it happen. She isn’t left  by the side of the road panting and pining for a nap when her Cranes duke it out for dominance on the head of her pin.

She’s mastered one of what Dr. David Schnarch, Ph.D. calls “The Crucible 4 Points of Balance™ 4th Point of Balance: Meaningful Endurance

“Tolerating discomfort for growth,” Dr. Schnarch explains. “Of all things that determine success in life, perhaps the most important is Meaningful Endurance. Very little gets accomplished in life without it. Endurance increases your chances of success in marriage, parenting, families, and careers. It is the basis of mastery.”

“Meaningful Endurance is not blind perseverance, stubbornness, or refusal to face facts,” he continues. “It is not stupid pain-for-no-purpose. It is not simply high pain tolerance, or accepting a lousy relationship. Meaningful Endurance is about tolerating pain for growth. If there's no growth, it's not meaningful.”

You know you’ve made it when you see these key indicators:

  • Sticking with things so you can accomplish your goals
  • Making yourself do what needs to be done, even when you don’t want to do it
  • Absorbing hardship and disappointment, bouncing back after defeat
  • Withstanding stress

The next time you feel imprisoned by your own To-Do List, consider this: you are not in purgatory, you are in training.

It takes stamina to manage all that professional and personal lives demand  — and not feeling that old cowboy adage “rode hard and put away wet.”

If you are growing, evolving, changing, or getting better in any way, you’re in Growth Mode.

Building Meaningful Endurance is a process — and a slow one at that. When the only thing between you and reckless enthusiasm for the life that you’re building is a nagging to-do list: reprioritize, slow down, take a break, be thoughtful.

Your mind-muscles need rest, too.

When you’ve given yourself a real break, “keep on keepin on” with the same tenacity that got you here in the first place, crushing to do lists and getting shit done.

Then brag about it on Brands That Rock.