Powerful thought: great achievement often appears when our backs are up against the wall. Pressure can actually enhance your performance. Your power most fully exerts itself when the heat is on. Who you truly are only surfaces when you place yourself in a position of discomfort and you begin to feel like you’re out on the skinny branch. Challenge serves beautifully to introduce you to your best – and most brilliant – self. Please stop and think about that idea for a second or two.
Easy times don’t make you better. They make you slower and more complacent and sleepy. Staying in the safety zone – and coasting through life – never made anyone bigger. Sure it’s very human to take the path of least resistance. And I’d agree it’s pretty normal to want to avoid putting stress on yourself by intensely challenging yourself to shine. But greatness never came to anyone normal. (Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa, Albert Sweitzer, Andy Grove and Thomas Edison definitely marched to a different drumbeat – thank God).
I’ve never forgotten the story of famed explorer Hernando Cortez. He landed on the shores of Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1519 and wanted his army to conquer the land for Spain. Faced an uphill battle: an aggressive enemy, brutal disease and scarce resources. As they marched inland to do battle, Cortez ordered one of his lieutenant’s back to the beach with a single instruction: “burn our boats.” My kind of guy.
How fully would you show up each day – at work and in life – if retreat just wasn’t an option? How high would your reach, how greatly would you dare, how hard would you work and how loud would you live if you knew ‘your boats were burning’ – that failure just wasn’t a possibility? Diamonds get formed through intense pressure. And remarkable human beings get formed by living from a frame of reference that they just have to win.