"‘Where there is a will there is a way', is an old true saying. He who resolves upon doing a thing, by that very resolution often scales the barriers to it, and secures its achievement. To think we are able, is almost to be so - to determine upon attainment is frequently attainment itself. " - Samuel Smiles
I've been fascinated with some new research about high achievers. The study I'm reading was first initiated to figure out how master chess players develop their incredible strategic skills. In the process of their observations the researchers expanded their investigation to include other “masters" such a great athletes. These scientists highlighted several key commonalities among their test subjects. Some of their predictions are confirmed by other research I've read in the area of psychology and personal development. Consider how some of these ideas apply to your own life right now:
1. Growth requires negative and positive reinforcement
Speaker and author, Jim Rohn has said, “Disgust and resolve are two of the great emotions that lead to change. " I certainly agree. I witness these two emotions everyday in my office. I see disgust for the “old way of living" that no longer works and resolve to move forward in a new direction in almost all of my current clients. When people balance between these two emotional touchstones they are often propelled forward in ways they never imagined. The mix of positive and negative reinforcement serves as a powerful motivating force. Growth really speeds up when the resolve to change is strengthened by a desire for something new, and by the fear of what will happen if nothing changes.
2. Growth is found on the edge between comfort and panic.
I often use a drawing to illustrate the emotional “place" one should be positioned for optimum growth. It's called the growth circle and consist of three concentric rings. To master yourself and your circumstances you must move out of the comfort zone (the center ring) and into the growth zone. The growth zone is an uncomfortable place between comfort and panic. It's obvious no one is going to grow if they don't challenge themselves with new behaviors. However, what's not always understood is that you really don't get far by “freaking yourself out" either.
Gradual exposure to new anxiety-provoking challenges is the best way to actually achieve change. If you move into the panic zone you are biting off more than you can chew. You want to master your fear in incremental steps. This keeps you in a constant rhythm of: anxiety-mastery, anxiety-mastery, anxiety-mastery.
As you get “comfortable with being uncomfortable" your unconscious mind develops a peace with the process. This in turn empowers you to do things you never thought you could do. Seek to always stay on the edge of growth and you will be able to echo the sentiments of Leonardo da Vinci, who said, “Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind. "
Why not use some of these ideas in your own life:
1. Pick one area of your life you feel is not working well.
2. Define your comfort zone - what have you been accepting for the last many weeks in this area of life. What is the status quo that you know needs to change?
3. Define your growth zone - name one new behavior that would break you out of the way it is now. Is there something you've considered dong but just keep avoiding?
4. Define your panic zone - if you rated the “fear factor" of this new behavior would you rank it a 10 (the most frightening thing you could do) or closer to a 1 (something easy to do). Try to pick a challenge that falls somewhere on the scale between 1 and 5. Stay out of the panic zone.
5. Resolve to test yourself - act on your idea and keep it up until you “feel comfortable" doing it or the fear factor goes down.
6. Repeat these steps in other areas of your life where you desire real change and growth.
© 2007 Mark C. Jones, MA, LPC - Life Coach and Counselor
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