One of the greater challenges when things get tight is to keep living in the moment. Otherwise life becomes a series of future dates: due dates for bills, rent/mortgage, and when you expect paychecks. When we fall into this trap each day becomes living for those days in a frantic attempt to meet obligations.

We need to pay $X on the 15th, then $X on the 22nd. What can we do today to make that happen?

We’ve all probably said something like this; we’re surviving, but not really living.

I’ve made this mistake many times, teetering between feeling like I couldn’t justify taking a break with those dates looming and then overindulging in escape on the weekends.

That focus turns us into the horse being led by a stick, unaware of the peripheral view while we chase the carrot of some deadline.

This leads to other sorts of destructive behavior, from time wasting activities to badmouthing your competition and embarrassing yourself, whether you see it at the time or not. Even if you think you are better at something than others, it looks insecure to keep pointing it out. Just be better.

While that point finally sinks in for me, I recognize the duality of so many situations before it.

A few times in the last several years I’d connect with peers and hope to collaborate, just to be frustrated at the apparent lack of interest in the other end. It was easy to blame them, to wonder what the hell their problem was, at the time. But it’s clearer now that a lot of that probably had to do with what I was putting out there.

We can feel like we want to collaborate. But if our behavior suggests that we see everyone as competition, that we only sacrifice as reciprocation for having been helped, it’s no surprise that some keep their distance.

In the last six months especially I’ve seen where leading with generosity goes a lot further. Our relationships with others as are much an investment as the time and care we put into our own lives. It’s tough when we each have our own problems, our own looming deadlines and due dates. But we have to resist the urge to self-center and shut off to the periphery.

Otherwise it seems like there’s only empty success or lonely failure. Jobs and clients come and go. Well-built relationships and partnerships endure. We indeed reap what we sow, and that can be the most enriching thing to come from struggle.