Many people are patiently waiting for someone to define victory for them. While we all encounter obstacles in life, if they remain unchecked, they can cause us to take the scenic route to achievement. Some people have a distorted view of, and or a strained relationship with, success. Others are caught in the crosscurrents of the external aesthetics of peace, whilst balancing the internal dynamics of turmoil. The tension between the gravitational pull known as commonality, and the inertia of immensity, can create a black hole of neutrality and passivity in the best of us.
“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.” – Bill Russell. But how can a person focus on completing the precise execution of a single task in its entirety? How does one become mentally tough? There is a concept, “Desirable Difficulties,” that was coined by Elizabeth and Robert Bjork. It describes how an individual may have a particular learning disability. At first glance, it will appear to be highly detrimental to the quality of his or her life. However, this perceived shortcoming produces a sense of determination that propels the individual to heights that may have otherwise been unattainable. The dyslexic young child is unable to grasp the concept of reading well, so in an attempt to compensate, he masters the art of active listening. Motivated to hear like a bat cursed with impaired vision, yet blessed with the skill of sonar and the will to succeed, he becomes a great therapist or trial lawyer.
Weight training is intended to strengthen a muscle, not injure it. Unfortunately, all roads sometimes lead to Rome. Micro tears (death by paper cuts) are the result of tiny microscopic tears in the tendons. The size and density of the damage vary based on the number of repetitions and resistance. The combination of fatigue and lactic acid buildup has turned many well-intentioned fitness enthusiasts away at the onset. What if we could push through the discomfort and stay with the routine for 21 days until it becomes a new habit? Maybe the soreness and stiffness in your lower back wouldn’t be so exaggerated? Maybe your playlist carries you into uncharted waters and one hour of cardio becomes a new reality. According to Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.” In many cases, a breakthrough is just around the corner from the feeling of being broken. In an attempt to circumnavigate various perceived sources of pain in our lives, we typically add mileage to our journey while missing essential milestones. Like Demophon in Greek mythology being removed prematurely from the fire by his mother, we too do ourselves a disservice by not completing our original mission.
“The greatest enemy of tomorrow's success is today’s success.” – John C. Maxwell. By definition, success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Some individuals have vague goals that leave them feeling unfulfilled and overwhelmed. Rather than run 26 one-mile jogs, they set out for the Boston Marathon fresh off a completely sedentary lifestyle. We must have checkpoints in life. Begin with small attainable goals that can bolster our confidence levels during the infancy stages of projects when we need the most encouragement. These space shuttle liftoff moments could prove to supply momentum for future generations if we would only decide to be the launch pad. For that matter, be the booster rockets. Be any part of the propulsion of your family’s future. The launch pad gets left in the dust, the boosters don’t get to see the promised land either. However, sometimes success is knowing that you pushed your teammate across the goal line even if you never score an individual touchdown.
There’s a book, “Ordering Your Private World,” by Gordon MacDonald. In it, he describes how when a person’s private and public self are not in full agreement, there is an imbalance. I liken this situation to tectonic plates shifting. On the surface, things appear normal until the molten lava that’s designed to remain below spews its way above wreaking havoc. I think it’s wise to examine ourselves and ask tough questions. It’s even wiser to get a second opinion from someone you trust that won’t sugarcoat deficiencies. Identify, then rectify the mission drift in your life.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” — Marcus Aurelius. Analysis paralysis is a real thing. It’s where a person or group spends so much time studying the thing that needs to be done, that nothing gets done. Find balance by working to become great at things you’re already good at, while delegating the things you don’t do so well. One challenge is to locate a perceived weakness and find unconventional ways to turn that flab into fab so to speak. The chasm between who I am and who I want to be is wide, but vision is the bridge I’m building to cross over into my paradise.