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If You Love Something, You Have to Protect It

You might have heard this advice before: “If you love something, set it free.”

But I’m not so sure about that. It seems to me that if you really love something, setting it free is exactly what you don’t want to do. I’ve been thinking about this idea ever since a friend gave me the opposite advice recently:

“If you love something, you have to protect it.”

I think that’s closer to the truth. In other words, if you love something, hold on tight and don’t let go!

Every day you have to make choices that ensure the thing you love continues to thrive. So if you find a way of life that is good for you, do whatever it takes to keep it.

Complacency—the middle ground—is the attractive, safe choice. But fall into complacency, and that thing you love might wander off and be gone before you notice. Then what? Better to protect it in the first place.

A relationship does not protect itself; it requires active work and humility. A way of life does not protect itself; it requires discipline and attention.


I used to run a business that died a slow death because I got tired of it. I could see it coming for nearly two years, but I failed to take action to reverse the process. Why didn’t I sell it, hire someone to run it, restructure, or something else? The best answer is that I didn’t love it, so I failed to protect it. And thus it died.

These days I feel like I’m working on something much more important. It’s OK that I lost a business that could have created financial independence for the rest of my life. I don’t regret the loss, and sometimes I actually think it was meant to be.

But I also don’t want that to happen again, so I’ve learned to take steps to guard against my own weaknesses. Where much is given, much is required. If you love something, you have to protect it.

What decisions can you make to protect what you love?


Book News: Thanks for your tremendous support of the AONC book launch. I’m currently on the road visiting every U.S. state—sign up to come out here.


Photo by Designecologist