I was raised in my family’s business. From the time I was ten, I spent summer vacations and Christmas breaks handing tools and crawling in crawl spaces with my father. Other than a few odd jobs, this was the only real job I knew. In my early twenties, I realized that the family business was not prepared to adequately support my father, older brother, and I. It was necessary for me to find another job. I began working for a large company doing what I knew how to do, or at least thought I knew how to do. I quickly realized that my skills were not as well developed as I thought. Knowing that the potential for growth was so great, I began regularly meeting with managers and supervisors to learn what they knew. Within a few years, I had been exposed to every aspect of that business and was confidently leading my department. When the opportunity arose to return to the family business, I jumped at the chance. The transformation from a shy (yet arrogant) boy, to a confident (yet humbled) leader was a result of recognizing my position of need and pushing myself outside of what was comfortable and “stretching” to become better. The only way a rubber band is useful is if it is stretched. This can also be said of us.
Most people find themselves tempted to take the “easy path”. Staying in our “comfort zone”, because it’s what we are accustomed to doing, may feel good, but it leads to mediocrity and therefore, dissatisfaction.
Psychologist Abram Maslow stated, If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.
If you have ever settled for the status quo, and then wondered why your life isn’t going the way you had hoped; then you need to realize that you will only reach your potential if you have the courage to push yourself outside your comfort zone, and break out of a “mediocrity” mind-set. You must be willing to face the tension that comes from stretching toward your potential. This is the only way to avoid what poet John Greenleaf Whittier described when he wrote: For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been”.
Most people have a dream. Some can easily express it, while others find it buried deep within. However, not many are pursuing their dream. If I were to ask if you are pursuing your dream, what would you say? What if I were to ask if you are achieving your dream? If “No!” is your answer to either of these questions, What is stopping you? It is wise to remember that our station in life is mainly the result of the choices we make and the actions we do, or fail to, take. If you are no closer to your dream today than a year ago, you can choose to accept it, defend it, cover it up, and make excuses for it; or, you can choose to change it, grow from it, and forge a new path.
Where do you find the internal motivation to stretch? You do this by measuring what you are doing against what you are capable of doing. If you have no idea what you are capable of, talk to people who care about and believe in you. Find a mentor who can help see yourself for who you could be, not who you currently are. Work with them to produce the image in your mind, to inspire you, and to start stretching.
Significance is birthed within each of us. If we are willing to stretch, that seed can grow until it begins to bear fruit in our lives. What’s fantastic is that the change within us challenges us to make changes around us; our growth creates a belief that others can grow. When this happens in an environment and everyone is stretching and growing, then “indifference” is replaced with “make-a-difference”. Thats how we begin to change our world.