This article is by Dave Anderson. Dave is president of Dave Anderson Corporation and LearntoLead. www.learntolead.com
Think for a moment about the most significant accomplishments you’ve attained professionally or personally, your own personal best. Perhaps it was a record month, the heroic turnaround of a failing business, winning a major contest, spearheading a successful fundraiser, coaching a winning team, climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Don’t go any farther until you’ve determined what you consider as your personal best accomplishment, or even your top two to three accomplishments.
I don’t know you or your circumstances, but my bet is that you did not attain your personal best while you kept things the same. My guess is you achieved your personal best when you changed something, challenged something; when you attacked the status quo, not when you nurtured it. The most significant accomplishments we rack up in our lives are when we step out and step up, not when we sit still.
Yet, oftentimes we forget what got us there: that it was the changes, the challenges, the walking into the unknown that brings our greatest accomplishments. And as a result we become more immersed in routine than risk, more comfortable with inertia than initiative. Before you know it, we’re in our ‘maintenance mode’, keeping things humming along, hoping nothing comes along to rock the boat or thaw out the frozen status quo. After some time in this mode we’re not as excited about what we’re doing any more, grow bored easily, lack passion and energy and we’re not even sure why. The status quo never holds its own; it’s just one step removed from sliding backward. Coasting is a dangerous state to be in since the only direction you can coast is downhill. You can tell you’re making progress and pushing hard enough when it feels like it’s a struggle, when it’s hard, when it’s an uphill climb because the next level is always higher than where you are.
Don’t forget what brought you your most significant moments of personal or organizational greatness. It wasn’t when you played it safe and tried to just ‘get by.’ It was when you stepped up and stepped out. Remember how alert and alive you felt when you were climbing, risking, changing and making an impact. You had a cause, not a job and it made all the difference. You’ll never recapture that feeling or have that impact while you’re watching what happens or wondering ‘what happened?’ You’ve got to make it happen and keep making it happen. And all the while you’re on the journey, if things ever seem too calm and under control then you’re just not going fast enough.
Thanks Dave! Heather