One law of human nature is to want more–more horsepower, more serenity, more intimacy, more money, more power, more life. But getting more is often an uncomfortable business. To reach the juiciest apples, we have to climb high, reach out, and risk falling off the ladder. Such risk taking tends to be uncomfortable–physically, financially, socially, especially emotionally. We spend a lot of time feeling awkward, inept, out of our element. Terror and exhilaration dance a reckless tango on our nerves.
Reaching for more takes learning, and learning makes us feel like children again, with all the excitement, wonder, and fear that spiced our earliest years. And it’s not what we’re learning, it’s where we’re starting from and how far we’re trying to reach that make the difference. Learning is relative. The experience of a paraplegic rediscovering the complexities of walking is as intense as that of a teenager learning to drive, a downhill skier learning to snowboard the half-pipe, a manicurist learning to run their own shop. What is routine for one is unimaginable success for another.
In learning, we all start from adversity. We don’t make enough money, can’t stand our job, don’t know enough, can’t climb the mountain. Adversity may creep into our awareness as dissatisfaction, a natural manifestation of personal growth, or it may be forced on us by accident or catastrophic illness. Whatever the case, we desire intensely to move from adversity to triumph. And in moving, we encounter new ideas, learn new skills, acquire new beliefs, adopt new attitudes. We face down adversity and stretch ourselves toward success. We improve.
To improve, we must weigh the desired end against the pain of getting there. No risk, no gain. If we opt for comfort and ease, we forgo the rewards of accomplishment. But if we take to heart what professional athletes are taught and “do something every day that scares you a little,” we stretch our boundaries and move into new territory. We gain in self-confidence, which makes it easier to push back the limits and tackle bigger challenges. We convert nervous energy–the jitters–into kinetic energy. We become unstoppable.
Do you have a story about how you took a risk or faced adversity in order to grow? If so, I’d love for you to share it in the comment forum below. You never know who you’ll inspire . . .