You’re Not Meant To Play Small
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” — Confucius
There comes a point in a person’s life when their childhood dreams evaporate into a void, overtaken by the demands of everyday life. If this describes you, there’s a tendency to play small instead of reaching for something more. I experienced this early in my career, where my problems consumed me and became part of my identity. Like a boxer pushed to the ropes where your only form of defence is to retreat. Many successful people have been in this situation, including J. K. Rowling, so it is nothing to be ashamed of.
On some level, you know you’re not meant to play small. Part of you recognises your potential, but something stops you from achieving it. People struggle for years before finally realising the pain and disappointment is not worth it. However, I giving up may not be your only choice. There are other options that involve pivoting in a different direction to achieve your goals. Research experiments on animals observed that when their food sources are restricted, they stop scouring for food and give up. Their fatalist brain believes food is in short supply and they accept this outcome. We all do this and give up when pushed to our limits. Though we develop our greatest personal growth if we stay the distance.
You are only as strong as the level of your personal growth. To equate this in terms of a fitness metaphor, you can only lift weights proportional to the physical training you have undergone. If you train often, you will lift heavier owing to your conditioning and dedicated training. Your mental and emotional resiliency functions in the same respect, in so far as life’s challenges help you develop resiliency.
Those Who Are Resilient Stay In The Game Longer
“On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Challenges and setbacks are not meant to defeat you, but to promote you. I realise after many years of defeats; it can crush your spirit and it is easier to give up than risk further setbacks and disappointments. To be honest, I don’t have the answers. I can’t tell you what is the right course of action; only you will know. What I know is failure mustn’t discourage us, since it means different things to different people. To a person with a Fixed mindset, failure is a blow to their self-esteem, yet to a person with a Growth mindset, it is an opportunity to find new ways to overcome their obstacles. Same failure, yet different responses.
Who is right and who is wrong? Neither. Each person has a different mindset that decides their outcome. Those who are resilient stay in the game longer and draw on their inner means to succeed. I’ve coached clients who gave up after many years toiling away at their respective goal. It was at that point their biggest breakthrough came. Perhaps all those years of perseverance finally paid off. It was the 19th Century’s minister Henry Ward Beecher who said: “One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” No one knows what the future holds, so your only guide is whether you can endure repeated defeats and disappointments and still pursue your dream.
I know one thing for certain: don’t settle for less than what you’re capable of, but strive for something bigger. Some people reading this might identify with this message because it resonates with you on a deeper level. For others, at the end of their tether, the message might be nothing more than a trivial pep talk. What I wish to convey, irrespective of where you are in your journey, is: NEVER settle for less. If you settle for less, you will receive less than you deserve and convince yourself you are justified to receive it.
Develop A Powerful Vision Of What You Want
“Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.” — Earl Nightingale
I recall a passage my father often used growing up: “Don’t tell me your problems unless you’ve spent weeks trying to solve them.” The advice echoed in my mind for decades and became my motivator. Don’t leave it to others or outside circumstances to motivate you because you will be let down every time. It must come from within you. Gnaw away at your problems until you solve them. Problems are not stop signs; they are advising you more work is required to overcome them. Most times, problems help you gain a skill or develop the resources to succeed later.
Therefore, embrace your challenges and develop the grit to push past them instead of retreating in resignation. Where are you settling in your life? Could you play for bigger than you are? Are you willing to play bigger even if it means repeated failures and setbacks? Ask yourself these questions to decide whether you’re willing to put yourself on the line or settle for less. And it’s fine if you’re content to receive less, as long as you’re not regretful later. If you have not achieved the success you deserve and are considering giving up, will you regret it in a few years or decades from now? Only you can answer that, but you should carve out time to discover your motivation for pursuing your goals.
The key is to develop a powerful vision of what you want and hold the image in your mind. Nurture it daily and give it life by taking purposeful action towards it. Vision + desire + dedication + patience + daily action leads to astonishing success. So, are you willing to commit to this way of life? Success is a fickle and long game with highs and lows. Similarly, there are no assurances you’ll succeed, even if you’re an overnight sensation. You must rely on the one true constant in your favour: your personal development. The more you grow, the more you gain, in terms of financial resources, status, success. If you leave it to outside conditions to dictate your circumstances, you are rolling the dice on your future. So become intentional in what you want out of life. Commit to it. Nurture your dreams. Focus on your development and if you want to give up, know what’s involved before you take the plunge. I assure you, someone out there right now is working harder, reading more books, sleeping less and sacrificing a lot to realise their dreams. Don’t leave your dreams to chance, but take the chance to achieve your dreams!