au · dac · i · ty – The willingness to take bold risks.
I’ve often heard people say that in order to reach great achievements we must avoid a state of satisfaction with our circumstances regardless of where we’re at. “Never be satisfied!” they say. The idea is that never being satisfied can be a motivational tool to help propel us forward. Though I accept the truth that forward progression is essential to individual contentment, there is one key point that the “never be satisfied” preachers miss: The process is the purpose. The very process of working toward great things is where satisfaction is found. It’s in the process that our very purposes materializes and we find ourselves. To this end, audacity can be a means of finding contentment in life. It can be a path to personal growth and personal fulfillment. In a word: satisfaction.
It’s true that people are pretty much the same the day before a goal is achieved as they are the day after. And since any audaciously big goal takes time and many steps to reach, it can be easy to forget about what matters and, well….remain unsatisfied. An audacious goal requires thought, planning and action. It might also require additional education or training. You might have to study and practice through trial and error to learn how best to apply what you’ve learned toward the achievement of your goal. What the goal is or where we’re starting from are two things that really don’t matter because it’s the very process of working towards that goal that’s meaningful. That, is where growth takes place and that’s exactly why it is where satisfaction should be found. The entire thing is a process. It can be broken down into components and intentionally applied and repeated. So, I broke the process down in to three easy steps.
Here’s an example of how this process worked for me. I had a goal to write a book. I had no idea how to proceed so, I educated myself: I googled “how to write a book.” For real. That’s how I started my education. I then took an online course on the topic. I learned that to reach my goal of being a published author that I’d have to break the process of writing and editing down into small, manageable steps. Each sentence required careful thought. I learned a ton; not just about the topic I wrote about or about the writing process. I learned that the creative process takes patience. I gained persistence. I gained confidence. I absolutely found the process satisfying. So satisfying in fact, that I want to repeat it as often as possible. And I want the same for you.
When taken as a whole, these steps can help you to achieve great things while also obtaining contentment and being “satisfied.” There’s no reason to have to choose between satisfaction and achievement. They can and do go together; working at one can help grow the other.
Are there any strategies you've found useful in being content as you work towards your goals? Tell us in the comments below!
We’ve all had them. Bosses that not only fail to empower or inspire us, but actually make us dread going to work each day. Their positional authority has inspired volumes of writing on what it means to be a leader. After all, a person doesn’t need to be a great leader to receive a promotion; usually they performed very well in their subordinate positions and were rewarded with a higher position. However, just being great in one position doesn’t mean they’ll be great leaders.
I’ve had mostly good experiences with my superiors throughout my career and those people taught me a great deal about leadership. But, the few bad experiences helped reinforce those ideas. They taught me that there are bad ways of leading; that despite that fact that I’ve always had an interest in my positions, I could still feel completely passionless about them. I’m certain that this discouraging mindset resulted in not just decreased productivity for the companies, but higher stress levels and less happiness for my colleagues and me. With that in mind, here’s a few things that I’ve learned; things that I will avoid as I lead others.
For leaders and aspiring leaders, it’s important to take note of what works as well as what doesn’t. If you want to motivate, inspire and encourage people to do more you must defiantly avoid the types of actions that bring the opposite result. Give appreciation to people. Give them a purpose, lead them by example, give them credit and empower them to do more.
I’ve often said how important authenticity is for a person to be happy and successful in life. Heck, “Be Authentic” is one half of my motto. Encouraging people to be true to themselves is part of my core message largely because I’ve found so much happiness in adhering to that principal. The more authentic I am, the more content I tend to be. But, what exactly does it mean to be authentic? The fact is, authenticity means different things to different people which is incidentally the exact reason that we tend to stray from our authentic selves. There are however a few universal truths embedded in the concept that must be part of any process of self-actualization. They include (perhaps counter-intuitively for many) service to others, self-care and development, and personal responsibility.
Tip: Avoid thinking self-righteously, and strive to serve only out of love and care for others. If you happen to inspire people, great. If not, remember that you’re building both the person you’re serving AND yourself.
I’ve found a much greater measure of happiness in life as I’ve learned to be authentic. I recognize that I’m different from other people in thought and behavior. I am what I am and you are who you are. Work to honor that! Serve others, work to build yourself and always take responsibility for your actions. You have so much to offer the world as yourself, not in trying to be somebody else.
The other day I watched my one year old nephew walk clumsily around, holding my dad’s hand for support. He’s clearly not a proficient walker; he had to rely on his grandpa’s help to get safely up and down the small set of stairs up onto the patio. Fortunately for my nephew, his lack of skill doesn’t prevent him from trying. In fact, in his own way he’s quite mobile, and with the constant practice he’s getting better. As a child, he hasn’t been brainwashed into thinking he can’t. He continues to work at it without shame or embarrassment at his frequent failures. We can apply the same tenacity to learning any new skill or concept if we simply embrace the struggle and accept that at first, we’ll suck.
That period of struggle is very real anytime we try something new. We’re simply not automatically good. There’s a commonly shared idea that suggests that it requires 10,000 hours of practice before we’ve mastered a skill. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but the point is that it takes time and effort. If you want to grow, you MUST go through the sometimes painful process of growth.
The first public speaking course I had in college was memorable for a number of reasons, but there is one in particular that stands out. A young man, clearly nervous and extremely apprehensive got up to give his first speech and noted his struggles with public speaking. He said that as a boy he was asked to speak in his church on the biblical story of Jonah. He was so anxious that he forgot to mention the whale! Still, he pressed through and finished not only that first speech but the course as well. He accepted that he wouldn’t be good at first, but he was willing to move forward from that starting point. And that’s exactly where we’re at: the starting point. Being at the start means that we’re probably very far from perfect. With that in mind, here’s a few ideas to help you move from the start, to wherever it is you want to be.
Friends, if you want to experience true growth in your abilities and gain confidence in yourself, it’s time to embrace the suck. Learn to crawl, then walk, then run. When embarrassment creeps in because you’re worried about what others think, you must be persistent in reminding yourself that you’ve got nowhere to go but up. Remember, the greatest experts in the world all started as novices. Be willing to start at the bottom and work your way to mastery. Do it over and over again in as many areas and with as many things as you have a desire to learn. Do that, and just imagine what you’ll be capable of in 10 years.
A number of years ago my family and I agonized over a decision that seemed so daunting and life altering, that no right answer seemed obvious. We had several job offers that could take us to Kansas City, Missouri or back home to Southwest Washington State. As my wife and I went back and forth, a kind friend offered this piece of advice: “Often, there is no wrong decision. You could go any direction and they’ll all take you down different paths and each of them could be right.” Basically, what he was trying to tell us was that once we’d made a decision, not to second guess it. A decision made consciously and deliberately yesterday, is very likely still the correct decision today. Beating ourselves up over what didn’t happen is counterproductive at best. That line of thinking holds us back because it dwells in the past. Unless circumstances have changed dramatically, what was right yesterday is still right today. Still, people tend to second guess themselves, often regretting a choice that felt right only moments ago.
Now, I’m not suggesting that there aren’t legitimate bad decisions that sometimes need corrected. Typically, when one alternative is bad, we know it before the choice is even made. I’m talking about competing “good” decisions. What is it that so often causes us so much uncertainty in those areas? Its human nature I suppose; we want it all. To combat the sometimes hopeless and almost always negative feeling of second guessing a decision, I’ve found the following practices to be helpful:
These simple strategies can help you develop a more confident mindset which in turn will help you become more confident in your decisions. As you learn not to dwell in yesterday’s choices, you’ll find yourself developing a more positive and hopeful attitude. Subsequently, you’ll find a greater measure of productivity and success in life.