-- Chapter from Courage -- Saving Time Through Courage Chapter from Courage -- Saving Time Through Courage
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  Chapter 57 from
Formulas, stories and insights

By Rabbi Zelig Pliskin 

Other Available Chapters
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Saving Time Through Courage

Courage can be a great time-saver. There are instances when you find yourself in a situation that is eating up a lot of your precious time. You would like to say or do something about it, but you find it difficult to do so. Utilize these situations as yet more opportunities to build up your courage.

I am friendly and like talking to people. Many of the people I talk to are lonely and need a listening ear. I realize that I am doing an act of kindness by listening. Nevertheless, when I was busy I really needed to end the conversation. But I didn’t have the heart to do so. I was afraid that the people who were talking to me would be upset with me if I ended the conversation before they were finished. I read about assertiveness and realized that this is the quality that I needed. The first few times I tried to be assertive I abruptly said, “Sorry, I have to go now.” The speed at which I ended the conversation was distressful to the people I spoke to. Someone pointed out to me that I was too abrupt. The reason I was abrupt was because it was so difficult for me to say that I had to leave.

I practiced ending conversations smoothly. I would say things like, “It was enjoyable talking to you. To be continued at a different time.”

Now that I knew that I could end a conversation when I felt it was time to end it, I felt more comfortable the entire time. Every time I end a conversation, I say to myself, “This is another act of courage for me.” Many people wouldn’t consider this as courage since they do this so easily. But since this had been difficult for me, it was a courage builder.

When people used to invite me for various occasions, I used to feel obligated to go whether or not I wanted to and whether or not the person really needed me to be there. Now that I view turning down an invitation as an act of courage, I weigh situations more objectively. When I feel a true obligation to go or when I feel that my going would be greatly appreciated, I accept invitations. But since I have the courage to say yes or no, I view my going any place as my decision and choice. I no longer go places and then feel resentful that I am spending time at events where my presence is not necessary.

When I am at a meeting or a lecture, I find it very difficult to leave before it is over. At times leaving in the middle would be disruptive or would make someone feel bad. Then I make a supreme effort to stay even when I would prefer to leave. But I have worked on my courage level to know that I can leave whenever I feel it is appropriate for me to do so. In the beginning I started building up this courage by walking out for a minute or two and returning. Once I saw that I could get up and leave, I made choices about whether to stay or not based on the total picture of my life that day, rather than feeling trapped out of fear. If the speaker would take offense or feel hurt, I view my staying as an act of kindness. It comes from a conscious decision that I am glad to make.

I am a kind person and love doing things for people. But at times people ask me if I could do things that would take me a lot more time and energy that I am really able to spend. When I was younger I would take on more projects than I could handle. I still wish that I could do more acts of kindness for others, but I need to ration my limited amounts of time wisely. I apologize profusely when I feel unable to spend time on something. I view these incidents as courage building. I used to feel guilty even when I knew rationally that it was impossible for me to do everything. Now I have a more balanced perspective.

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