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On a recent trip to Israel, I experienced many wonderful observations about life and living. Many of them were about religion, spirituality and belief. One powerful insight, however, had nothing to do with any of those areas.

Our guide, who fought in Israel’s foundational wars of 1967 and 1973, shared some amazing stories about the spirit of the Israelis as they confronted their enemies. In some cases, the stories sounded nothing short of modern day miracles. And they were. But upon deeper reflection, I realized that they were brought about as much by human inspiration as they were by Divine intervention.

This realization was crystallized when someone asked our guide how the small nation of Israel managed so many successes against many larger nations with greater armies. His response was an answer that can lead all of us to victory in every aspect of our lives. It was not about superior planning, greater numbers, logistics, equipment or luck. His answer, in my opinion, is summed up in one word – commitment. He simply replied, “We cannot afford to lose one war.”

The Israelis know that if they lose even one war, they will lose all they have worked tirelessly for not only these past 60 years, but for much of their existence. And their accomplishments in that short period of time are amazing. They have literally turned deserts and barren land into forests and orchards. I have never seen so powerful a transformation as I did while traveling their country.

Spirit of 1776In our guide’s concise, yet incisive answer, not only did I understand commitment at an entirely new level, but I realized the power of fighting for something vs. fighting against something. The distinction between the two is one that has given birth to nations and had a people thrive against almost insurmountable odds. Each and every day, in almost every action, Israelis wake up knowing what is at stake for them. It is almost as if it is coded into their DNA.

There is a huge difference between fighting for something vs. against something. If you are fighting for something, you are inspired by what is in your heart and feel as if you are being pulled toward a vision that is greater than yourself or where you might stand in the moment. You feel as if you have a direct responsibility to care for that vision and have a direct impact on its success.

When you fight against something, you are directing your energy, or even worse, surrendering your energy, to what it is you oppose and do not want. Your whole existence becomes not about your vision and what you want to create, but rather someone else’s vision of what you do not want. It is a resistance that blinds you and pulls you off track, rather than a vision and commitment that pulls you forward and inspires you.

So the question with which I returned to this great country, a country born of the same spirit, was quite simple: What am I fighting for? What commitment is coded into my DNA that gives rise to a vision toward which I wish to direct my every action?

I leave you with those very same questions.

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