No one and nothing hits harder than life. It’s not about how hard you hit…
it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
~ Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
What’s your life about?
What are you committed to?
Sometimes life does its best to break you.
No matter how much we may wish for life to be easier, or to learn that “special combination” that will keep us out of difficulty, it’s just not possible.
And, regardless of what you’ve convinced yourself, you really don’t want it to be possible…. No matter what bill of goods you’ve been sold.
If your wish is to escape challenges and difficulties, nobody and nothing can save you; and no one and no one can protect you from life itself. You must live, you must love, and you must feel.
When you see clearly you realize that if you “want to escape challenges” you don’t really want to live. Something to ponder.
Difficult times are a test of our souls; a test of our fortitude; and as a result, they can be the most growth-filled and instructive times we experience.
Life often hits hard.
Deal with it.
At the end of the day… no one gets out alive.
The grand question in life is not “Are you going to die?” The answer is self-evident.
The grand question in life is “Did you really live?”
“Damn James” you may say, “This is kind of grim.”
When we see things clearly we live powerfully. When we realize that our time is short, we might just choose to truly live! Living and merely existing are vastly different.
Countless research on happiness and fulfillment proves conclusively that those who are most happy and fulfilled in life are living lives of “increasing complexity.”
Do you get that?
Rote routine and comfort lead to boredom, complacency, and death of the spirit.
Mastery is a moving target that is never reached
but always fully experienced at the moment.
How long would you be fulfilled playing chess with a child? How long would it be worth your time to play tennis with someone who could never hit the ball back over the net?
If you’re really honest you know this expenditure of time will quickly run its course, and there will be no joy. While it may be fulfilling to teach a beginner or child… at some point you also want to test your own abilities of performance. Are you with me?
You need uncertainty…
And you need external challenges…
You need and desperately want an external adversary.
You’re going to face challenges whether you like it or not, and deep down inside you do want them! Your spirit wants them. For if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you. Anyone who tells you differently is either not seeing clearly themselves… or is not being honest.
“One of the major causes of suffering
is that we do not see life clearly, exactly as it is.”
Quit fooling yourself. See clearly. It’s in the struggle to learn that we become bigger, better, more awake, and alive! It’s in fighting our own adversary that we grow wiser.
During these times of difficulty and challenge, you’ll most likely hurt, you’ll most likely suffer, you’ll be scared and afraid; and yet if you’re wise you’ll learn.
“In times of change, the learners will inherit the Earth.
While the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to
succeed in a world that no longer exists.”
~ Eric Hoffer
There’s only one way that it’s possible to more elegantly deal with internal pain and suffering that challenge often brings, and that’s through a commitment to growth and greatness. A commitment to see life clearly and to understand what life is truly about.
You must learn to be comfortable with discomfort.
For if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you.
Carol Dweck, a psychologist from Stanford, worked with driving coach Ross Bentley to study the minds and extreme focus of racecar drivers. With races lasting for hours upon hours, under intense pressure, and at breakneck speeds, these drivers must be focused, to say the least. One error can not only mean losing the race… it can literally mean losing a life.
A much-simplified conclusion into the characteristics of extreme focus is two things:
- Extreme focus is the result of the flow state. (reference MGG series)
- Extreme focus is the result of the ability to make a mistake and not let it blow your concentration.
Mistake is a manmade term we use to label things we don’t like.
Yet mistakes are most often our greatest teachers.
Again, what are you committed to?
These two points above I believe are a wealth of knowledge; as well as game-changing distinctions if you’re paying attention.
If you’re committed to growth and learning then you will naturally seek out “mistakes.” Please read that again. Put it in your coffee and stir.
“Only those who will risk going too far
can possibly find out how far one can go.”
~ T.S. Eliot
Dweck concluded that there are basically two types of mindsets in the human species. What she called a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset.”
Simply put, those with a fixed mindset assume that abilities, like intelligence and athletics, are fixed and unchangeable.
Those with a growth mindset are more able to enter focused flow quickly and to stay there more consistently no matter what happens during the race. The same is true in the race and game of life.
The key point I will reemphasize but not belabor (because it’s been discussed in great depth and detail elsewhere), is that a fundamental tenant of a growth mindset is that “natural-born talents are the starting point.”
The first thing you find on a map in the mall is the big red X stating “you are here.” Until you know where you are… there’s no way to know how to get where you’re going. Are you with me?
The next step is that once you know where you are, with a growth mindset you must obviously focus on growth. To grow we have to take risks, and to take risks we have to be open to making “mistakes.”
The greatest risk in today’s rapidly changing world is to take no risk.
Barbara Sahakian, the neuropsychologist from the University of Cambridge, states, “If you’re interested in mastery you have to learn this lesson. To really achieve anything you have to be able to tolerate and enjoy risk.”
Please note: and enjoy (in joy) risk!
One of the greatest risks that we create internally is the perceived risk that threatens our own self-image. I’ve been there, done that, and gotten two tee shirts.
When I was being hit from all four corners by the press and others, my intent and integrity were in question, my teachings were being attacked, and my reputation was suspected… it hurt! That’s an understatement.
But the fact… is that the only thing that truly hurts is the false self-image and/or reputation we attempt to uphold. Please read that again.
Those with a true growth mindset are open to feedback—be it in a race, in business, or about their own personality and behavior. Even—and this is key—even if it’s unflattering! Please read that again.
To reach our full potential we must know ourselves accurately. We must know life accurately. We must in the words of the Buddha, “see life clearly, exactly as it is.”
When we see clearly, when we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and accept life as it is, we’re emboldened to move forward and utilize what we’ve been given to our own advantage.
Every single one of my setbacks has taught me what was deep inside of me—and you—and us all. Beyond the false self-image, beyond the good opinion of others. Beyond the disappointment and pain and broken expectations.
What appears to be the devil in your life is
actually just God in disguise.
I’ve always found a way to pull out of the shadows… to find light in the darkness; and so can you.
I’ve always found a way to grow… and so can you.
I may or may not have met the original objective I set out to accomplish, but I met the challenge. And in retrospect, I’ve always found something better than the original objective… for it’s in the challenge and the learning that we become better, bigger, more.
Please read that last paragraph and please tell me what you’re thinking.
The beginner sees everything as either a blessing or a curse.
The master sees everything as an opportunity for growth.
Those with a fixed mindset see the world as black and white. Bad or good. Wrong or right. Mistake or mark. Strikeout or success.
The person with a growth mindset sees everything, even when uncomfortable, unflattering, undesirable, even when painful and frightening, as input for further development, advancement and growth.
Which are you?
Fixed or Growth Minded?
Be a Leader. Live Your Purpose; and Take Your Power Back!
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