One of the hardest things to do in life is to step outside your comfort zone. We all like to be around people that we know well and do things that we’re very comfortable with. Being comfortable is a great feeling and one that you should be sure to enjoy when you have it. If we never stray from always seeking comfort, however, our growth will stagnate and over time, you will be less likely to accept new challenges. You will find yourself being comfortable, but never reaching your true potential. For some that is OK…for others, that is not an easy truth to accept. I tend to fall in the latter group.
Take time to reflect on your life and what you’ve accomplished to this point. Is that enough for you? Do you think you can achieve more? If you think you can, then you can. One way to start down the path of continued growth is to find ways of taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Seek new challenges at work and in your personal life. Doing new things will surely bring about fear, anxiety and a general feeling of being uncomfortable. As you learn more about these new experiences, however ,you will find that there is nothing to be afraid of. Knowledge overcomes fear and will lead to strength. In time, you will look back and be grateful that you accepted new challenges. You will realize that stepping out of your comfort zone has made you a stronger person, one that has overcome fear and replaced it with an excitement for becoming a better person in life.
“By deliberately putting yourself in situations where you have to face fear, you familiarize yourself with it and your anxiety grows less acute. The sensation of overcoming a deep-rooted fear in turn gives you confidence and presence of mind. The more conflicts and difficult situations you put yourself through, the more battle-tested your mind will be.” (Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War)
Ain’t nobody been where I’ve been…
They’re at a standstill…
I know that I ain’t got much time here…
Nas – “Let There Be Light”
Education is one of the most important things that we can seek in this world. An educated person will be well equipped for success in all areas of their personal and professional lives. As you become more educated, however, you are going to become more aware of the mistakes that people in your life are making. This may be something so trivial as the incorrect pronunciation of a word or something a bit more substantial, such as making a financial or professional decision that will likely lead to unwanted results.
It is natural to want to pass on some advice that you’ve learned from your own life experiences, but in order for your advice to be trusted and followed, it is essential that you find a proper way of educating someone without insulting or embarrassing them.
“By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man?” (Hagakure)
If you take a direct approach and call out someone who is making a mistake, they will almost definitely take offense to your correction. Even worse, this approach taken in front of others will certainly embarrass the person. By finding an indirect way of providing the correct information, you will help the person realize the mistake they have already, or were about to, make. This lesson was one that Marcus Aurelius learned from the literary critic Alexander…
“Not to be constantly correcting people, and in particular not to jump on them whenever they make an error of usage or a grammatical mistake or mispronounce something, but just answer their question or add another example, or debate the issue itself (not their phrasing), or make some other contribution to the discussion – and insert the right expression, unobtrusively.” (Meditations)
Life is all about your approach. Your ability to be trusted by your peers and seen as a true teacher, and leader, is no different.
Sometimes life is fair. Many times it’s not.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position of leadership, it’s important to remember that not only do people care about outcomes, but how they are treated and whether or not they are being treated fairly. When treated fairly, they will more than likely be motivated to continue working with you and for you. On the other hand…
An abuse of power is likely to result in a loss of power.
Seek fair process.
Keep it simple.
It seems like something so obvious that it just can’t be right, but experience has shown me time and again that it’s true. Take a look at any part of your life and you’ll find some good examples of this advice coming into play.
When it comes to family, one of the worst things you can do is to complicate things by over-thinking meaningless problems. I’m sure you’ve seen many times when fights have somehow seemed to manifest themselves out of nowhere. Things can turn from nothing into something major pretty quickly. The next time you have a little squabble with a family member, or you see others you love squabbling over something silly, take a step back. Take a deep breathe and think about all the time and energy being wasted when there’s a good chance it means nothing in the whole scheme of things. Keep things simple and realize that at the end of the day, family is one of the most important parts of your life. They’re there to love and support you, so don’t waste that valuable asset on something meaningless.
Many careers require you to think deeply and spend a great deal of time preparing spreadsheets, presentations or documentation. I would never advise against any of this, but be sure to use your time wisely. Many times I’ve found myself wasting hours and hours thinking about a possible solution to a problem while the answer was staring right at me the whole time. It’s natural to think that some problems must have a complicated solution or else they would have been solved already, but I’ve learned that this usually isn’t the case. All it takes is some clear thinking to realize that the problem you’re dealing with isn’t as big as it seemed at first. Keep things simple, break down the problem at hand and apply some logic to resolve it. People will take notice and soon you’ll start to hear, “Oh that was easy, I should have thought of that!”
Different people are interested in different types of art. Some like the more complicated and really deep types of music, literature and photography. I’m sure a music theorist and fan of classical would argue with a fan of hip-hop all day about what constitutes music and how something more complex is simply just better than something more simple. It really comes down to taste with art and what people can feel a connection with. Personally, I’ve always gravitated to the simpler forms of art. I can appreciate all forms, but I can really understand and feel a simple kick and snare with a chopped sample. Too many synthesized noises or layers upon layers of instruments and I’m lost. Not to say there is anything wrong with more complex forms, but when it comes to art, I’d always use the same advice, keep it simple and people will be feeling it. If you hit a drought of creativity, keep it simple. Go back to your roots and you’ll always find that inspiration and creativity coming back when you need them most.
In his jam “Poe Mans Dreams (His Vice),” Kendrick Lamar puts it oh so eloquently…”Some rappers using big words to make their similes heard, my simplest shit be more pivotal.”
As Newton’s law of motion states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When discussing this law, it is usually in the realm of physics. It means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the force on the first object equals the size of the force on the second, but in an opposite direction. These forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite.
Try thinking about this law in your approach to life. There is always another way of looking at things, a yin to the yang. When you come across a problem tomorrow at work, think of it as a solution to another problem…you’ve been looking for a way to move forward in your job but can’t seem to get a leg up on the competition. There may be a few co-workers that are a bit more experienced but you really feel like you can handle that next step. Use tomorrow’s problem as a solution to this. This problem may be something difficult that will take a great amount of time and effort to figure out, but doing so will put you exactly where you want to be, in your eyes and your boss’s.
Take a step back. Look at things in a different light. How can something negative be taken as the opposite? Think long enough and you’ll find a positive out of every negative. It may seem like the whole world is going up in flames at times, but out of the hottest fire comes the strongest steel.