Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Embrace the Uncomfortable

Real growth requires change. And real change can be scary. Think about the first steps for a baby learning to walk. His entire life he has watched all the “big people” walk instead of crawl. The baby wants to walk. It is almost instinctual to first stand up and then to take actual steps. But it is also very scary. What if I fall? What if I get hurt? (I know, I know – the baby is not thinking in such terms but you get the point). The baby has to overcome fear, has to overcome inertia and overcome lack of total muscle control. Despite what could seem an almost impossible task for such a “small person” to overcome babies do learn to walk. And then walk fast. And then run. Once they have pushed beyond the known and into the previously unknown they are unstoppable.

That same pattern has repeated itself throughout your life. Think about how you felt learning to ride a bike. You pushed past the fear and then felt the joy of the wind as you pedaled faster and faster or as you stopped pedaling and picked up speed down the local hill. It was the same when learning to drive a car. You wanted to learn but felt some trepidation the first time you sat in the driver’s seat. After driving down the country road or across a parking lot your confidence grew and soon you wanted to drive everywhere. Once you got your license you went where you wanted and when you wanted (depending upon how good you were at convincing your parents to actually give you the keys on Friday or Saturday nights).

That is what growth for everyone is. Pushing beyond the known; pushing beyond the comfortable. If you never venture outside your comfort zone you’ll never discover just what you are capable of. You never grow and you never really change. Sure you’ll get older and your outward appearance will change, but deep inside you will remain the same. No one ever comes to the end of their lives and says they should have done less or should have tried less. The common reflection is to look back and wish to have done more, to have moved more boldly and to have taken more risk.

Growth is risk, but as the saying goes: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. When you come up to that point where a little voice in your mind tells you to back off, that you are pushing smack up against the unknown, go ahead and push forward. Embrace the uncomfortable and see where it will lead you. You will be surprised at just what you can handle and just how much you can accomplish. The more you push the more skills you will develop. The most powerful of which will be the courage to demand more of yourself and to move ever forward.

Uncomfortableness is just your minds way of telling you that a new life lesson is straight ahead. Move forward, embrace it and let the education commence.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quote for the week

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” – Benjamin Disraeli

You Must Get Rid of the Good in your Life

Over the years I have become convinced that the word “good” is holding us back. Successful people have learned that good is not enough; the goal is to be great. Great at being you and great at what you do.

For years when I was asked “How are you doing today” I would answer “Pretty good”. What the hell kind of answer was that. It occurred to me that if I was going to have great day, a successful day, I needed to be doing much better than “pretty good.” Pretty Good leaves it unsaid that I could be doing better, and if I could be doing better than I should get after it. I no longer answer with pretty good. I answer with great, fantastic, fabulous or something similar. Even if the day has not gone as well as expected my response when asked how am I doing can actually change the rest of my day.

It all goes back to mindset. Successful people are positive and optimistic. Everyone encounters challenges in their lives but forward thinking people move through and deal with the challenges. They do not wallow in self pity and they do not procrastinate. They dig in and get moving.

The other problem with the word good is that it lets you off the hook. If you accept that your work is good it can quickly slide into “good enough”. That becomes a slippery slope. “Good enough” is like cholesterol building up in your arteries. As you except more and more “good enough” in your life (more cholesterol building) the level of success you can attain starts to drop (your blood flow gets compromised). Over time the excess cholesterol can kill you; over time “good enough” kills your creativity, your productivity, your skill level, and ultimately your ability to attain all the success you dream about.

You need to strive to be great. Successful people put their full effort into everything they do. Is that report you are going to turn in to your boss the absolute best you can do? If not, why would you turn it in? Your work is a reflection of you. Are you giving your full focus and energy to building and strengthening your relationships with family and friends? How can you expect to enjoy deeper and more meaningful relationships without putting in the effort? You are only as great as the work you produce and the effort you put into the relationships around you.

Banish the word good from your vocabulary. Substitute the words great, awesome, fantastic, superb, outstanding, extraordinary, fan-freaking-tastic, excellent, outstanding, superior, fantabulous, amazing, excellent, etc, etc. Don’t let yourself off the hook. Successful people demand the best from themselves at all times.