Don’t Settle for Less: Find Your Forcing Function

Don't settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that's in us.

-Angela Bassett

In my latest effort to improve my overall health and wellness, I hired a personal trainer to get me out of my winter-time rut. (The cold weather and countless pecan pies have not been as kind to my waistline as they used to be.) We meet at 6 a.m. so that I can get it done before the day’s distractions and responsibilities have a chance to demotivate me from working out. While I’m getting ready for our session, I’ll normally play a few motivational videos to get me energized—there’s something about “The Rock” (Dwayne Johnson) telling me to get moving that seems to do the trick. :)

In one of our latest sessions, Kobe (not his real name) very nonchalantly asked me to perform a set of deadlifts with a rack of weights that I’ve never tried before. If you don’t know what a deadlift is, it’s actually not important. What is important is that the weight was visibly heavy and intimidating, and I immediately started to question whether I could do it. I didn't complain aloud, because no one wants to hear complaining, especially that early in the morning. Instead, I walked up to the weights, took my stance and genuinely surprised myself as I slowly did the reps.  

That moment triggered a sequence of thoughts including self-reflective questions of what else I (and others) don’t do that seem unattainable. More generally, how frequently do we aim for lower, inferior goals and expectations in our relationships, career and self-maintenance because it’s much easier to settle—to fall into complacency or take the path of least resistance. Sometimes our complacency is based on negative past experiences or just an unproven fear of failure. But to be really great in any aspect of our lives, we must have a healthy disregard for what seems impossible and try anyway. After all, the worst that can happen in many cases is that we’ll just have to readjust our expectations and take more time to work up to our goals.

I’ve known a number of people that limit what they try because of what other people will think if they don’t succeed. We really shouldn’t be afraid of failure or people laughing at us because, quite frankly,  anyone that will relish in your perceived shortcoming is very likely leading a mediocre life. Successful people understand the strength and courage it takes to strive for lofty goals and the stamina required to stay the course despite setbacks. They also understand the strength and courage it takes to do things that are challenging.

To be successful, you have to be mindful of who you surround yourself with because water truly does rise to its level and like-minded people will be the ones to help fortify your resolve when you want to quit. These are the people who aren’t encumbered by your past experiences or negative self-talk; they will push you to aim past what you thought was impossible and act as a forcing function* in your life.

So, the next time you find yourself staying in your comfort zone understand that growth and greater success lies outside those boundaries.  You’ll likely find that you’ll surprise yourself and achieve goals that you never thought possible.

*A forcing function is a mathematical term which represents any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.


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Aji OliyideComment