What is Sacrifice?
Grego and Pricey love this topic. When we thought we might talk about it, we both asked, “Is there enough depth to it?” And the more we’ve explored it, the more we realise there’s so much to this topic. Sacrifice is simply things like giving up some comfort so that you can do something that’s more important. We say,
“It’s the act of giving up something valued for something that we think is even more deeply valuable.”
So maybe you give up lying on the couch to get up and help with dinner, or at work, you give up some personal glory for the team’s success. It’s all about, what’s really true is sacrifice is about going to something that’s even more value, of higher value, and we often forget that. Because sacrifice we can have at home with the family, or the community, even in the public world, or it can be about your health.
It might be a moral decision because sacrifice makes us realise, in the moment, what is most important to us.
And you know that sacrifice is going to be linked to the values that we hold really dear. So when we sacrifice, we sacrifice linked to the deeper values, whether it be family, honesty, our own health. Sacrifice draws us back and leads us to go much, much deeper there.
Grego remembers reading the history of the word, sacrifice. It comes from two words, sacra – and – fice, or fascia. And what it really means is sacra’s, sacred, fice, make. It means making you sacred.
Now, we think that’s really interesting, that the act of sacrifice brings out a more sacred self in the moment, more spiritually-aligned self. And when you sacrifice intentionally in order for a higher need, that’s exactly what happens. You feel a bit more alignment. You feel a bit more centred. You feel a bit more sacred, for want of a better term. And we think that’s a really important thing to remember, because that is what sacrifice is all about.
As we talk about this so many images of sacrifice come to mind. Pricey’s father Frank, his dad, suffered with a mental illness for many, many years. And one of Pricey’s childhood images he will never forget was laying on his bed. He was about eight years of age. And the lights in the house came on and Pricey’s father had taken really, really ill. And for years there, Pricey’s dad had been struggling, and his mother sacrificed. She just took great, great care of his Dad. And here was the local ambulance team have came and they were taking his father away, and here’s his Dad on this particular kind of a stretcher. And his wonderful mother walking along beside the actual stretcher holding his father’s hand. Pricey remembers clearly as a little boy thinking, “Here’s Mum sacrificing for the man she dearly, dearly loved.”
Pricey’s dad as a young man, had grown up over in New Zealand and was a journalist and back in the 1930s, the place, if you want to be a journalist or a printer, Germany was the kind of place where great printing, printing presses were and great things such as that. So Frank Price left his family, left his business over in New Zealand, travelled to the other side of the world, sacrificed not being close to his family, sacrificed all sorts of things. So he could study with the very, very best. So Damien’s parents were such great witnesses to him, of putting aside what they wanted to do in the short-term for a higher kind of good.
Grego too has many images that come to mind of sacrifice. With all this corona stuff and the complexity of life in many ways quietening down a bit. And for many of us, thinking about what is most important in life, Greg certainly has thought about the struggles his parents and grandparents before them, about how they came to provide the life that he’s got now.
Greg remembers his old man telling him a story about how he said that he was a teacher and mum worked in healthcare and they had five kids in private school, in little Catholic schools. And Grego thought, “How did they do that, plus a mortgage?” They had no money for years and years and years. They sacrificed their comfort so that we could have a brighter future.
One of the things that really stood out to Greg was his Dad saying how, on a Saturday, they’d often get together with some friends in the neighbourhood and get together for a drink. And all the men were in a similar boat and they’d all scrapped together a couple of gold coins so one of them could go down the road and get a six-pack of beer and all have a beer. It was their one beer of the week.
Greg remembers just thinking, “Wow.” It’s really putting context to the world we live in. That’s only 30 years ago and we often think about that because what they did for us is provide the life that we have now. And we think this is such an important part about sacrifice. And we just mentioned it as it’s creating a better future and the right kind of future aligned around values.
Your Motivation for Sacrifice
Your motivation, your reason for what you sacrifice is so important. This is so important, that sometimes, we get sacrifice a bit mixed up. If you don’t really stick to the purest of motivations, it can get a bit lost. So what’s important is to;
Stay pure and keep a really good intention that this is, this sacrifice, this hardship, this thing that I’m not having, is going to be for something that’s going to make me better, my life better, the people I serve better.
So you’re going to get up early in the morning and you’re going to go, and you’re going to go running, go to the gym because you want to sacrifice so you can become a fitter, more whole, and more complete kind of a person.
This morning Pricey’s alarm goes – it is a cold morning and it’s 6 am! Everything in Pricey wanted to stay in the warmth of his bed. But no, he needed to get up because he needed his time of reflection and meditation time every start of a day. So he drags himself out of bed, it was cold, sure, but he went to a deeper, a deeper kind of space. Pricey just knows he needs a space of reflection before he gets into his day. It takes him to a higher good.
As a parent of a young family Grego knows that same sacrifice. Pricey is struggling to get out of bed at 6 am but does so for the higher good – Grego meanwhile is deep in sleep because his 14-month-old daughter sacrificed her sleep last night, so that Greg and his wife could all have a play at 1:00 in the morning for two hours. So very generous of her! That is sacrifice but that is just what parents do – it is part of the journey.
But isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t it beautiful, though, as a dad, you get out of bed at that time of the morning. You do it, it’s a pain in some ways, but you do because you love your kids. Okay. That’s what the whole sacrifice thing’s about.
It’s love or she actually won’t stop crying. Grego can’t remember which one.
We do this for the family. We do it for our community. We do it for our wider community. We’re putting others first. We’re putting a deeper, deeper need first. And it’s what us men actually do. There’s a poem that says, “You get up in the middle of the night and do what needs to be done for the children”. And that’s what sacrifice is.
In a former episode, we looked at Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, and that whole thing of that particular poem, he based it on a friend of his, and Kipling was writing to his own son. He was trying to say to his son, that part of being a man is that you sacrifice for the higher good.
Sacrifice for The Higher Good
Back in the Second World War, Pricey had a wonderful Uncle Joe, and Joe grew in a little sugarcane town up in Far North Queensland there. And when the Second World War started, Joe probably did not understand the politics of it a big, big deal. But Joe was a young man and some other guys from Pricey’s hometown, Joe went and joined the Australian Army and that journey took him up to Malaya, took him to being captured by the Japanese Changi, prisoner-of-war camp, worked in the Burma railway and then he eventually lost his life when he was drowned at sea when his Japanese ship he was on was sunk. But Joe and his mates, they were sacrificing because for each of them, freedom was the higher type of a good. So in his case, they believed that Germany and Japan were threatening the actual freedom of their world. So Joe and them in their own little way, just gave their own lives for the higher, higher good.
The Paradox of Sacrifice
In preparing this, one of the key things that we felt was really important was the paradox of sacrifice. And that is, in giving, we receive.
If you look at all the stories of heroes in the modern time, like the ones we love, from some of the war stories that are so popular and others, and particularly in the Australian context, it’s those who’d sacrificed, from the people that battled the bushfires, to lately, the doctors and nurses on the frontline. These are the people that sacrifice, put their own safety at risk, for the higher good that we really, really celebrate. In the midst of all of that sacrifice – as we give – we gain, we receive, we become a better me.
How to sacrifice
But we think a really important thing here is just to remember how to sacrifice, because we’ve mentioned you can get it a little bit wrong, right. And we just tell the story before about having to get up in the night. It’s those little things that we think that are the best ways to leave a little sacrifice. It’s like legacy, which we’ve spoken about in another episode. The little things make a difference. When Grego reflected on relationships – it took him a long time to work that out in a relationship context – sacrifice is key. Greg reflected that he got it all wrong and that it took him a long, long time before he worked out that all his partner really wanted was a whole bunch of little things to show that he would sacrifice his own comfort for the relationship and what we’re doing.
So with sacrifice, don’t always go looking for the big thing, the big hero moves, because that’s not actually how it works. It’s small little things, done after another, with humility, not drawing attention to yourself. We think they’re the ones that are purest. There’s part of it there in that day by day, there is an element of sacrifice, which means you do it on Monday, then you do it on Tuesday, and then you do it on Wednesday. There’s that sense of commitment in the good and the bad, and you get up and you get those little things done. Whatever it is, you get the kids ready for school. You cook that meal. You tidy up around the house. Whatever the thing is, and there is a sense of sacrificing for that bigger good, but it’s done in those really tiny, tiny things.
“Not about me” – don’t focus on the pain
And it’s not about going, “Me, me, me, look at me.” It’s not focusing on you. And we think a part of it all is when you do that sacrifice in all those little things, you don’t focus on the pain because it is hard. You’re getting out of bed early, you’re getting out of bed at some ungodly hour of the morning, you’re going to the gym when you want to stay at home, short pain, but you don’t focus on the pain, on what is tough.
You focus on your reason for doing it and your particular goal.
Why am I doing this? Why am I getting out of bed at this time? Why am I cooking this particular meal? Why was my mother walking along beside the stretcher with my dad? So it’s focusing on why you were doing it and your goal.
The greater good in the workplace
The other thing about it is you’re always thinking about the greater good. One thing that Grego comes across a lot in his work is politics at work, as an example. And the very best thing you can do there is to sacrifice personal glory or ambition for the good of the team and the good of the organisation.
And look at all the great sporting captains. What are they great at? They’re not seeking glory for the individual, they’re seeking team glory. And when you’re after the good of the community, the good of the family, the good of the team at work, what that does is remove this tension between people as well. That’s one of the beauties of sacrifice when it’s done in a group context is it just destroys politics and removes it because people are demonstrating that the team is more important than them. So that’s a vitally important thing when you’re taking sacrifice to work.
We think you’ve got sacrifice wrong when you find yourself complaining. When you’re going, “Oh, had to get up at half past one in the morning.” Or, “I had to do this. I had to do that.” You’ve become a bit of a martyr then, and you’re drawing attention back on to you. When you sacrifice, it’s that silent kind of giving, it’s a silent motivation, it’s a silent going within for the higher kind of a good. That requires a bit of discipline. You’ve just got to just get in and buckle down and actually get the thing done.
Pricey often talks about those seconds, the five or so second choices. You get to the swimming pool, it’s a cold morning, you don’t want to go for all those laps, but you just dive in. You put that extra weights onto the weights. You cook the meal. Run the extra mile. We don’t think there’s a magic solution there, there is no magic wand that makes sacrifice easy – other than you have really clear goals, your motivation’s good, but then just do it.
The Pitfalls of Sacrifice
But what of the pitfalls, let’s talk about a couple of pitfalls here because we think people have a good inherent sense of how to make sacrifice, but it can go a little bit wrong when you become a bit of a doormat or when you start playing the martyr. The whole big thing is don’t just sacrifice all the time, willy nilly, and essentially be the only person sacrificing. You sacrifice with pure intent. If you, constantly, as an example, you sit down with a child and you make the sacrifice to help them do their homework, but you do it every night. And essentially, you end up doing the homework for the child. You take the sacrifice too far. And so, sometimes, and this is a tricky game to play – sometimes, what the other person needs is not for you to make a sacrifice, but for you to ask them to make one. And that won’t be always the case.
But if you are constantly saying, “Okay, I’ll make a sacrifice. I’ll make a sacrifice. I’ll make a sacrifice,” and being that person. You head toward martyrdom, rather than actually being someone that is treating sacrifice as sacred.
Pricey has taught in schools for 30 or 40 years. One of things he found was that if he ever met a parent and the parent was whinging to him, “Look, I’ve done this for my child. I’ve done this for my child. I’ve done this for my child and look at what the child has done.” Pricey always knew there was something wrong here. It wasn’t a sacrifice, they’ve become a martyr. And kids hate that. Kids react. Whereas if you sacrifice in a way that invites the other to share the responsibility and take responsibility for what is in their sphere of influence it can be magic. The goal is to work with the child, work with them and invite them to make a sacrifice and you go on the journey with the child, really fantastic things happen.
Go to the deeper motivation and this will point you to the way to go; to sacrifice
Greg has worked with a lot of senior people – a lot of Senior Executives. He met this one guy in the States last year and he said, very, very successful businessman, has bought multiple businesses, has done super well, but he’d got it so wrong, he said, for nearly 25 years of his life, because he believed that in order to be successful, he had to make sacrifices. And so that was something really deep within him. But what he didn’t get was the purity of sacrifice. So what he did was, okay, I’m going to be successful in his terms, that was he’s made money. He would sacrifice his family. He would sacrifice his fitness. He would sacrifice a whole range of other things. What it meant was he couldn’t have both. He couldn’t have family and be successful at work. He couldn’t have his fitness and his family and be successful at work.
And so as a result, he never tried to solve that problem. He just felt like the world needed to be, sacrifice family for work. So what he actually got there wrong, he got it completely around the wrong way. Because what he really wanted through his business was to have a happy life and all he was creating was one that was not happy. And that’s a really, really hard thing to come to an understanding, if you’ve been doing that for 25 years, but he’s turned his life around as a result. So you can’t misunderstand the role of sacrifice. And every now and then, it pays dividends to look a little bit within your own mind about what kind of stories you’re telling yourself that sacrifice gives you.
Core values and be gentle with yourself
And so we come back to where we began. What are the core kind of values? And we’ve all heard that phrase, “Who on their death bed wishes they spent more time at the office?” Sure, you set your goal, whether it be a business goal, your sporting goal, but your core values are underneath that around health and family and relationship. So it doesn’t become an either or, it becomes within the both of them going to the higher good, but say no to some easy kind of pleasures and comforts. You’ve got to be gentle with yourself within all of this. We think sometimes, we can be a tiny bit hard on ourselves. Sometimes, sure, you do sacrifice, but then sometimes, you’ve just got to take the foot off the pedal and be kind to yourself. Go on the family holiday, give yourself a day off. And when you stuff up, just say,
“Okay, I stuffed up. And that is okay.”
And we think that that sort of sums up the wisdom, doesn’t it? Sacrifice is meant to be done to make you be stronger, greater, more wise, more to serve the community in a way that the world needs. And if you push yourself too hard and you get to the point where you’re constantly sacrificing, you’ll never enjoy because you are exhausting yourself, your spirit, and that’d be a real shame because it doesn’t bring up the spirit in you if you’re always sacrificing.
You know, this beautiful paradox that we talked about a tiny bit earlier, it kind of sneaks up on you. When you are sacrificing, when you’re giving to your partner, to your kids, to your core actual values, all of a sudden, the paradox, you actually begin to have that closer family. You’ve got the better relationship, you are feeling a little bit fitter, et cetera.
So enjoy the view from the top of the mountain, enjoy the speech at your child’s wedding or their 21st. And as you get older, full of wisdom, and sense of that you’ve lived life to the full, enjoy it.
It is in giving that we receive.
Pricey & Grego