Challenge Creates Change


Challenge creates changeDo you ever go into those ‘motivational stores’?  Do you know what I’m talking about?  You know, those home décor stores that have motivational art all over the place?

Or, you could find the same kind of décor in coffee shops.  Coffee shops are great places to discover and soak in some great motivation.

I’ve discovered some great truisms:

  • If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough
  • You can’t discover new oceans without the courage to lose sight of the shore
  • Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
  • Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
  • Work hard, stay humble
  • Your mind is like a parachute – it works best when it’s open
  • Dreams don’t work unless you do
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time?
  • Get sh#t done

Not that I make a point of browsing home décor stores, but I’m not afraid of them either.  So, I have a confession to make: I browsed through a home décor store this past weekend.  All alone.  As a man, I have to say, I felt very conspicuous.  However, I was on the hunt for my wife.

She casually mentioned that she wanted to get a really comfy ‘throw”, I think they’re called, to go on the end of the bed.  And, maybe a couple of matching pillows.  So, I was out at Home Depot buying manly stuff and I thought I would pop into a home décor store to see what I could find.

I was able to hunt down my quarry and come home a successful hunter – much to my wife’s delight.  However, as an added bonus to my hunt, I spied a piece of motivational art in the store that I really liked:

“If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you.”

Soak that in for a minute.

Our culture is so hard wired into comfort and convenience that we do everything we can to eliminate that which makes us “uncomfortable” – that which is challenging.  Those who truly want to grow and change commit themselves to getting outside their comfort zones.  They choose to challenge themselves.

I saw a phenomenal example of this in a leader recently.  I have an opportunity to take a small group of leaders to Africa in 2018.  We’re going to do some work in Burundi with local business people.  Our goal is to somehow encourage, envision, inspire, and equip them to step out entrepreneurially to stimulate growth in their country.

I decided to ask a leader to come along for whom I knew this would be uncomfortable and challenging.  I laid out the program and simply asked if he wanted to go.  His face contorted a bit, he looked down, clearly working through some mental and emotional angst, then looked up at me and blurted out as expeditiously as possible so as not change his mind,

“YES!  YES, I’ll go.”

“Wow, don’t you want to think about it?  Don’t you want to ask your wife?”, I inquired.

“NO!  I’ve committed myself to do things that push me outside my comfort zone so I can grow.  My wife will be supportive – she’ll probably want to come.”, was his reply.

Now there’s a man who understands that without challenge there is no change, and has committed himself to getting out of his comfort zone.

In the leadership groups I have the pleasure of leading we say that, “TEC is a comfortable place to be uncomfortable.”

Great leaders understand that their comfort zone is actually outside their comfort zone.  They truly understand that without challenge, they will not change.  And great leaders have committed themselves to life-long learning, life-long challenge – a life outside their comfort zone.

So what’s your position on challenge?  Are you afraid of challenging yourself, or are you committed to challenging yourself?

Here’s a little litmus test for you: if what you’re considering intimidates you, then maybe that’s the only reason you need to do it. (As long as it’s not immoral or illegal.)  Fear is always a component of challenge.

We need to be “exhilified” to grow – exhilarated and terrified.

Challenge creates growth.

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Leading and Living on Purpose.