What is the lesson in the challenge?

“I’ve always found that anything worth achieving will always have obstacles in the way and you’ve got to have that drive and determination to overcome those obstacles on route to whatever it is that you want to accomplish.”

Chuck Norris

If it is easy to achieve is it worthy of your efforts? Doing what is “easy” doesn’t strengthen and build a platform for long-term success. I have learned far more in life from the obstacles and challenges along the way than I have from any “accomplishments.” Well, that’s not entirely true. I have learned a great deal from accomplishments that occurred AFTER I had to overcome a challenge along the way. Those were the ones that reformed who I am as a person and have helped me grow and learn. While I might have wished to avoid the obstacle if given a choice I can’t think of a single one where I don’t appreciate the lesson it taught me.

Having drive and determination to overcome challenges is critical. Equally important is taking the time to reflect on what it is you were supposed to learn from the challenge so you can improve and grow.

What is the lesson you are supposed to be learning from the challenge before you right now?

Over, under, around or through…

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” 

Randy Pausch

Have you ever hit the wall? Gone as far as you think you can and then had some obstacle or challenge come up that just stops everything? Running into the wall over and over is frustrating and it is easy to see how some people will just give up. But simply giving up is never the right option.

I will occasionally use a quote more than once and typically it is because of some challenge I am facing (or one I know others are facing) or is because it is particularly resonant with me at a specific time. I used today’s quote previously in October and it is fascinating to look back and reflect on why I chose it then, and what has changed since that time. (previous post here)

Today I choose this quote based on observations around organizational change and how slowly change can manifest. However, my reflections today are that perhaps change is slowed down because I am only leveraging one method to try and influence change. Overcoming challenges means you must be open to thinking different, trying new things, looking at changes in yourself first. The old axiom from Maslow, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” applies here. If my only mechanism to drive change is to use the tools I currently possess, then I am limited in my ability to influence change. Growth requires getting new tools and finding new ways to scale the wall.

The brick walls aren’t there to stop you, they might just be there so that you learn new ways to go under, over, around, or through them…

Choose wisely…

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.”

Abraham Lincoln

Suffering setbacks, failures and challenges is inevitable. It is going to happen to all of us at some point or another. How we react and respond is a choice. Deciding to succeed despite the challenges is a choice. Doing whatever it takes to overcome is a choice.

But then, so is quitting… Which choice are you going to make today?

Contented or is there something more?

“Sad will be the day for every man when he becomes absolutely contented with the life he is living, with the thoughts that he is thinking, with the deeds that he is doing, when there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do.”

Phillips Brooks

What were you meant and made to do? Is it more than you are doing now? Where have you become contented in life and in your thoughts and actions?

This is heady stuff for early in the morning but it definitely stopped me in my tracks as I read this quote and reflected on the questions above. I believe there can be great danger in discontentment if it is all about yourself and what you want to do. But if you frame these questions from the perspective of what God meant and made you to do, perhaps it might change your answers.

What did God mean and make me to do? Is it more than I am doing now? Am I fulfilling all that He created me to be and accomplish?

Dream or a nightmare?

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”

Jerry Rice

What is it that you know you should do, but haven’t yet had the discipline to accomplish? Is it being healthier? Learning a new skill? Reading a certain book? Building a stronger relationship with God? Setting aside time to focus on giving to others? The list can go on and on for each of us.

So many people have dreams but don’t have the self-discipline and determination to make those dreams come true. Actually I think living this way might be more aptly labeled as a nightmare… If you want something, do the work today. That is what will make the dreams come true. You can either capture your dreams or be held captive by the nightmare of regret.

We can all choose if we want to be a victim or a victor in life…

Pursue excellence today…

“Excellence must be pursued, it must be wooed with all of one’s might and every bit of effort that we have each day there’s a new encounter, each week is a new challenge.”

Vince Lombardi

Every morning is a new opportunity to get back up, to attack the world, to strive for excellence with all one’s might and effort. That’s what it takes to win. That’s what it takes to go beyond where we are today and get to where we want to be.

Approaching each day as a new challenge, a new opportunity to strive for excellence allows one to leave whatever happened yesterday, whether it was a success or not, in the past. Excellence is ahead of us and achieving it depends on what we do right now.

What are you going to do today to advance towards excellence? This is not a list of ALL the things you feel you need to do. What is the one thing that you can do differently and WILL DO today?

How big is your dream?

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

Colin Powell

What kind of dream motivates you to take it from a wish to reality?  Is it big enough to make blisters worthwhile?  It is big enough to make you overcome any obstacle?  It is big enough to make you get up early in the morning and do the hard work before anyone else is even awake?  I’d argue that if you aren’t doing those things, your dream isn’t big enough…

 

What winning looks like…

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Vince Lombardi

People that lean in always impress me.  I am talking about those who look for ways to serve others, serve the organization, serve a higher purpose.  The type of person that drops  everything to go get it done; to do what matters most.  They don’t wait to be told or asked but they raise their hand and volunteer.  They exhibit and live an ethos of  “whatever it takes to get the job done.”  They just see what needs to be done and do it.  No complaints, no focus on “what does this mean for me, what am I going to get out of this” they just get it done.  

This type of person doesn’t know how to quit.  This is the athlete that is committed to excellence and doesn’t take plays off.  They know the ball isn’t coming their way on the next play but they are committed to performing at the highest level no matter what.   

This is what it takes to create success.  The determination to grow, persevere no matter what, to find ways to contribute and add value without making it all about yourself.  When you do this, regardless of the score, you win…

Comfortable being uncomfortable…

“Grit is not just a simple elbow-grease term for rugged persistence. It is an often invisible display of endurance that lets you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest and do it again and again.”

Sarah Lewis

I have tremendous respect for people with “grit.”  The dictionary defines it as “firmness of character or indomitable spirit.” In fact, entire books have been written about the subject.  (this is just one example, there are more but this is a particularly good one)

I respect those with “grit” not just because they have resilience and are able to grow through almost any circumstances with grace and aplomb, but because they are comfortable being uncomfortable.  I think that is why this quote resonates with me so much, because it is hitting on what is so important for growth and success in today’s world.  If you want to improve, you have to be comfortable getting uncomfortable regularly.  The world is changing so fast that becoming comfortable can be the first step towards complacency.  From complacency is a short and slippery slope to irrelevance…

The other part of this that I like so much is because it highlights the “invisible display” factor.  A person with “grit” doesn’t have this trait to show it off for others.  It is a real and internal attribute that helps them get through the tough stuff of life.  It frames how they approach the world.  The people that I have know who have a strong bent towards this trait don’t walk around showing or telling others how “gritty” they are.  They are simply comfortable being uncomfortable and have relentless drive to overcome any challenge or situation, without letting that impact WHO they are and what they value.  

Are you comfortable getting, and staying, uncomfortable in order to grow and learn?

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

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