“He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills. Our antagonist is our helper.”
Edmund Burke, 18th Century Irish Statesman
Image from Flickr by Christopher Paquette
My dad was a physical education teacher and coach for multiple sports, one of which was wrestling. Young men of equal weight would compete in one of the most challenging and physically exhausting sports I’ve ever experienced.
In a matter of minutes, while engaged with your adversary, you would likely find yourself gasping for air and having already worked up quite a sweat.
Not surprisingly, wrestlers are some of the most fit athletes because of the struggles they face in competing at a high level.
Who are the antagonists/adversaries that strengthen your nerve and build your personal or professional skills? How can you appreciate and perhaps seek even greater challenges to further your personal excellence journey?
“The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.”
Milky Way Image from NASA.gov
If you enjoy viewing the night sky, or are an avid stargazer, you’re probably somewhat disappointed these days. The thousands of stars we were once able to see each night are now obscured by the glare of city and industrial lighting and the haze of pollution.
Sometimes life’s difficulties, challenges, and setbacks—our darkest nights—can provide a high degree of illumination on brighter possibilities.
In what ways do you block the lessons available to you through your darkest nights? How can you view those moments through a new lens, finding brightly shining lessons to light your path in the future?
“Their ‘Can’t’ is my trumpet.”
—Brendon Burchard, American Motivational Author
Image from Flickr by Mauro Hiroshi Cannas
One of my favorite authors is Seth Godin. I particularly like his recent book, “What to Do When it’s Your Turn.” The subtitle, “And it’s Always Your Turn,” is a key element of his brilliance.
Too often we are hoping to be picked for the team, asked to dance, or selected for promotions or other desired opportunities. We all frequently experience setbacks, disappointments, and others telling us what we can and can’t do.
How can you take Brendon’s coaching and let the “Can’t” be your own trumpeting call, to boldly choose yourself and realize more of your full potential?
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
-J.K. Rowling, Author of the Harry Potter series
Image from www.telegraph.co.uk
J.K. Rowling conceived the idea for the highly successful Harry Potter series while on a train from Manchester to London in 1990. At the time, she was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International. Over the course of the next seven years, her mother died, her first marriage ended in divorce, and she and her young child lived in relative poverty, subsisting on state benefits, until she finished the first book in the series.
Five years later, she became a multi-millionaire.
She was the runner-up for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, noted for the social, moral, and political inspiration she brought to her fans. Today, she supports numerous charities.
Where and how can you use life’s biggest challenges and difficulties as the foundation to take your life to the next level?
How can you support others in your world to do the same?
“A strong person looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.”
-Adapted from Gina Carey, musical artist
Image from shopwood.com
If you are a fan of old John Wayne movies, you may have seen the 1969 film, True Grit. The word “grit” is used a good deal these days, to point out the value and need for greater courage, bravery, determination, and personal fortitude in a world many believe is getting soft.
Far too many people want to take an elevator to the top rather than climbing the stairs to reach their most cherished and valued goals.
Where is it appropriate—or better yet, necessary—to demonstrate your personal strength and grit, by winking at the challenges you face?
“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”
Image from emilykjesbo.blogspot.com
When I started my coaching career many years ago, my wife Wendy gave me the gift of a customized license plate that reads “I Coach.” Over the years it has become a conversation starter, with people often asking me what sport I coach.
This leads to a discussion of my role as a business and personal coach. Recently, I noticed that in all these years I have never coached a professional or even top amateur athlete.
This means that there have also been no actual mountain climbers, but we all climb metaphorical mountains every day. Surprisingly, the bigger and more daunting the climb, the more satisfied and rewarded we feel when we reach the summit.
What challenging projects or goals are you pursuing these days? How can you more fully experience the growth satisfaction along the way as well as the wonderful views when you reach the top?
“Some of the best gifts come wrapped in sandpaper.”
-Lisa Nichols, Motivational Speaker
Image from diy.stackexchange.com
Take a moment to look back over your life to examine some of the most significant lessons you have learned.
Who were the people who influenced or participated in these experiences? Some were probably parents, teachers, or bosses with a bit of an abrasive nature that “smoothed” a few of your edges.
What challenging experiences are grating on you these days? Which of them may simply be a gift in disguise, because of its sandpaper packaging?
“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.”
-Herb Caen, 20th-century San Francisco Journalist
Image from dailyapple.blogspot.com
What are some of the physical signs you experience when you take on a new challenge, go outside your comfort zone, and bite off more than you can chew?
Is it butterflies in your stomach? Cold sweats, a pounding heart, or a general feeling of fear and foreboding?
What do you do when you have these feelings?
Herb Caen suggest we embrace the lessons and accompanying wisdom provided by the circumstances, rather than retreating.
Where in your personal or professional worlds can you start taking bigger bites out of life’s apple to capture even more nuggets of wisdom?
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
—Fred Devito, American Yoga Instructor
Image from londonpowertunnels.co.uk
What areas of your personal or professional life would you most like to change for the better? How long have you wanted these changes in your life? If your answer is “far longer than I care to admit,” a new approach will be required.
The New Year is just around the corner and a high percentage of people will be looking to resolve or achieve far more this time around.
One key to this success is to choose only a small number of challenging objectives that will cause you to stretch and grow, and to garner many more social and structural sources of support to virtually guarantee your success.
List one or two challenging goals for the New Year. Display them in multiple places in your personal and professional worlds. Solicit the rigorous support of a coach, mentor, family member, or friend, who will not give up on you to assure the lasting changes and results you desire.
Once this has occurred, select another priority goal and repeat the process, to have your best year yet!