Weakness into strength…

“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”

Michael Jordan

Most of the greats have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. There is an edge to them that you just can’t quite put your finger on. They have something to prove and no one can push them harder than they will push themselves, especially if they are challenged in some way. I am sure that we have all known people like this, or perhaps even been this person from time to time.

When should you push hard and turn another person’s perceived weakness into a strength and when should ignore that criticism and focus on leveraging the strengths that you already have? Being able to discern this is critical otherwise you could spend all of your energy trying to fix the perceptions of others and that could in itself become a great weakness…

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…

Steadfast & Persevere…

“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.”

Bill Russell

We are all going to get knocked down every once in a while. Without some setbacks now and again how does one develop mental toughness and the determination to overcome? Interestingly if you substitute ‘steadfastness’ and ‘perseverance’ for ‘concentration’ and ‘mental toughness’ you have a very similar parallel from these verses in the book of James which I have been studying for the past several days.

‘Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Without concentration and mental toughness, or steadfastness and perseverance, one can’t learn from the inevitable trials and setbacks in life and emerge a better version of themselves…

Over. Under. Around. Through.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.”

Michael Jordan

What is the point of growth if everything is easy?  If we had an “easy button” in our back pocket we would never grow or improve at anything in life.  Challenges are what force us to become better.  Without them we would be stuck in a rut of incrementalism and fall far short of our true potential.  Obstacles are gifts because they create opportunities for us to rise above the challenge and flex our creativity.  I’ve been most impressed by those that, when faced by an incredible test, rally together and figure out a solution.  

Find a way to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal.  Skill and talent will only take you so far; grit and determination are what carries you over the hurdles that will happen in life.  

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