When Your Load is Too Heavy

This blog originated from a recent experience in which I was working to fill in a “washout” on a long gravel driveway with some fresh stone. The area was fairly large and to fill in the large low spot, I knew I would need several loads of gravel. Fortunately, I have a mid-sized tractor with a front-end loader (albeit 20 years old), a “bucket” (for those who aren’t in the know) and also a large pile of gravel.

On a typical day or when doing a simple lifting task, the end loader is a real back saver; you can move lighter loads with ease, whether rocks or firewood rounds. Lifting and carrying heavy loads is a different matter, however, especially when a mere five-gallon pail of gravel weighs over 70 pounds. A full end loader of gravel approaches 1,500 pounds.

Driving a fully loaded or overloaded tractor involves greater risks—braking problems, tipping over, instability, dropping the load, damaging the tractor, etc. As a matter of safety, drivers are advised to carry the load as close to the ground as possible. Following safety precautions is wise since tractor accidents are consistently the #1 cause of farm deaths.

So there I was carrying a heavy load—a bit too much, perhaps—for at least a quarter mile up a hill land also a short distance sideways across another hill. What I soon remembered—this was not my first tractor rodeo—was that the load was now dominating my steering and the tractor was actually following the load. I was having handling problems.

The truth be told, I experienced many anxious moments, especially on the hills. Thankfully, I was able to make each of the trips safely. And no, I didn’t make the decision to carry less gravel and make more trips. What can I say?

As I drove the tractor into the barn to park it for the night, the thought crossed my mind that this experience was a metaphor for how we often encounter the big and difficult problems in life.

If the problem is indeed too large or too overwhelming, we run the risk of “tipping over,” including increasing the wear and tear on our bodies. Excessive stress loads are certainly not a good thing and can be difficult to handle.

How we carry the load also makes a difference. But before we discuss some ideas in this regard, let’s keep in mind the fact that we can often reduce the weight of the load. We don’t have to carry it by ourselves. You may, of course, make the same choice I did with the tractor and foolishly take unnecessary risks with your well-being.

To carry a heavy load safely in a tractor end loader, you need to have the proper ballast that creates sufficient balance and stability for the load. Visualize a teeter totter with a much lighter youngster way up in the air because of the much heavier weight of the other youngster. Ballast provides the necessary balance to be safe.

So here’s my question, what provides the ballast in your life so that you can carry the heavy loads you have to bear occasionally?

The answers are many:

  • Stepping back and ensuring the fact that the problem is properly identified.
  • Developing and having good problem-solving ability
  • Having a positive mindset
  • Working to control your emotions and letting your mind do its job (easier said than done)
  • Having life-guiding values and principles
  • Setting proper goals and tracking your progress

There is no doubt that psychological or emotional ballast is vital to our well-being and problem-solving sucess.



Proverbs 25:11

Timely advice is lovely,
like golden apples in a silver basket.


Can't Not Do

Real Leadership:
9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose

John Addison (McGraw-Hill, 2016)

The author of this month’s book is John Addison, CEO of the Addison Leadership Group and a well-respected consultant and speaker. Real Leadership chronicles John’s time as the Co-CEO of Primerica, a publicly-traded insurance and financial services company during a time of success and challenge.

I truly enjoyed reading this book, not only because Addison is a great story-teller and inspirational writer, but also because the content is candid and compact, practical and principled, and valuable in the everyday life of an organizational leader. “I would rather err by giving a person too many chances than by giving them too few,” is but one example.

Essentially the book lays out nine fundamental leadership principles which the author describes as the principles of living your best life. An insight in the prologue got my immediate attention with respect to being successful whether as a leader or in living our lives.

“There are only two things that really matter:

  • There’s what happens
  • And what you do about it.”

What we do every day really does make a difference and how we do it certainly matters as well.

Each of the nine chapters have noteworthy insights and memorable ideas. In the narrative that follows, I will identify the chapter and share one or two thoughts that resonated with me.

Chapter 1. First things first: Decide who you are.

“We are human becomings.”

“Here’s my approach to problems: I don’t want to form a committee to study it for the next 18 months. Whatever the problem or challenge is, I want to get it dealt with today. I believe you’ve got to get up every day and wrestle the alligator that’s in front of you. And then move on to the next one.”

Chapter 2. The People Business: Shine Your Light on Others

“Real leadership is about building other people and shining your light on them, not on yourself.”

“Leaders work for their people.”

Chapter 3. Culture Shock: Build on Your Strengths

“One thing that makes real leaders great is that they are keenly aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.”

“The only way you get to the top is by pulling a whole lot of people with you.”

“The troops (employees) on the ground knew we were in trouble, but the generals (corporate leaders) weren’t asking the troops.”

Chapter 4. Anchors to Windward: Earn Your Position

“Great leaders are remembered for what they do when things are tough.”

“The only way to genuinely survive adversity is to embrace it. Those who try to manage, side-step, or just wait out the bad times typically don’t make it.”

“Leadership, at its heart, is about learning how to be a force for the positive.”

Chapter 5. Boom Years: Focus on What You Can Control

“When you’re the leader of any kind of an organization, you have to be the most focused person on the team.” You can’t be attracted to all of the distractions.

“What you focus on grows. Whatever you focus on, that’s what you get more of.”

“Too often leaders think they can get results by lighting a fire under people. If you want real results you have to light a fire within people.”

Chapter 6. Mortality: Develop a Peaceful Core

“A sense of inner peace acts like the gyroscope in an aircraft that enables it to adjust its flight path and stay on course.”

“You want to be a real leader? Be quick to forgive and even quicker to apologize.”

Chapter 7. Decision: Be a Lighthouse

“Weathervane. Lighthouse. I’ve made it my business to know which is which, and to never forget the difference, not even for a day. Most ‘leaders’ are weathervanes. Whichever way the wind blows, that’s the way they turn. That just doesn’t work. If you want to accomplish something great, something real and effective, you’ve got to be that lighthouse.”

“A leader’s function is to illuminate the way when it’s dark and dangerous out there.”

Chapter 8. The End of the World: Don’t Burn Bridges

“When people are going through hell, talking about how hot it is will only make things worse.”

“People will be willing to do a whole lot for you if they like you.”

“You can’t succeed on your own. Nobody does.”

Chapter 9. Independence Day: Make Your Parents Proud

“Make your someday your everyday. The question is what do you need to do right now to move your story forward?”

“The key to building real leadership is simply this: to live a life that makes a difference.”

“If you wait for success to make your happy, you’ll always be miserable. You’ve got to be happy first, in order for things to start getting better.”





Until next time,

Art Dykstra

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