According to famed author and speaker Earl Nightingale, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” However you may choose to define it, success requires growth. This implies moving into unfamiliar territory and doing things we are unaccustomed to doing. In short, we must embrace change. Since change is an ever-present part of life, it is impossible to achieve high levels of success without equipping ourselves to rise to the challenges that this inevitability brings. As creatures of habit, human beings prefer to operate in their comfort zone where everything is familiar, secure and predictable. Any attempt to move away from our element brings discomfort and fear. “Move out of your comfort zone,” says author and speaker Brian Tracy. “You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
No Gain, No Pain, No Nothing
When I ran track in high school, I learned that whenever you worked a tired muscle it got stronger. Anyone who has ever worked out knows that working tired muscles mean only one thing – PAIN! Unfortunately, that was the only way to get stronger and better. Growth and change in any area of life is paid for with the currency of pain every single time. Whether you are starting a new job or embarking on a new business venture, changing an address, or simply changing the nature of an existing relationship, we have to leave the predictability of familiar surroundings and venture out into the great unknown. High achieving men and women readily accept this as the natural order of things. They understand that this is the only highway that leads to their full potential. Faced with the pain of change and the pain of regret, they choose to contend with the short term pain of change rather than live eternally with the pain of regret.
One of my favorite quotes growing up was from Alexander Pope, the great eighteenth-century English poet. He proclaimed that “Fools rush in where angels fear to trod.” Needless to say success involves risk-taking. However, there is a thin line between being bold and being foolhardy. As we throw caution to the wind and vigorously pursue our goals, our actions need to be based on an intelligent assessment of the potential risks and rewards. Doing this kind of assessment allows us to identify the best paths and methods towards our goals. Of course, this does not eliminate the fears which always accompany any attempt to create something new and spectacular in life. To deal with this fear, we must be bold. We must feel our knees buckling, lips quivering and our throats parched and yet be courageous enough to do the very thing that caused us to be scared to death.
Take Your Leap of Faith
Several years ago, when I was getting ready to leave the army, one of my friends asked me how I could leave such a desirable and prestigious position. I told him it was my act of faith. For a young man from the slums of Kingston, the army was seen as one of the most secure jobs anyone could hope to have. Our unofficial slogan was, “Three meals a day, no bills to pay, no wife to obey.” I was leaving it all behind to face the rigors and uncertainties of immigrant life in the United States, taking solace in General Douglas MacArthur’s admonishment that “There is no security in life, only opportunity.”
Throughout the history of mankind, every instance of success began with someone taking that leap of faith, trudging through their unknown, creating and taking advantage of opportunities they encountered along the way. Yes, we must intelligently assess the risks and rewards; but stepping out boldly does not mean that we have to have all the answers before we start: knowing exactly what to do at every step of the way is not a prerequisite to success. What we need is faith in our ability to launch without any guarantee of success, while knowing deep in our hearts that somehow things will work out for the best. When you step out in faith, you will discover that along the way you will learn the lessons you need to learn and make the contacts you need to make in order to succeed.
Fortune really does favor the brave.
Keep on Pushing!