Let’s get one thing clear right out of the gate; high performers are made not born. It is no accident that high performers have ascended to their current state, and while they may make it look effortless I can assure there is a metric ton of blood, sweat, and tears that you’re not privy to. These individuals have taken the courage to boldly assert themselves in a world that harasses them to compromise, lower their expectations, be normal, and don’t strive for more. The gravity pulling them towards mediocrity is heavy, but their desire, drive, and discipline for more help them achieve exit velocity. There is a litany of things high performers do that others don’t and in this particular blog we’re going to focus on how high performers spend their time at the end of the year to reflect on where they’ve been and set their goals for the upcoming year.
Looking Backwards to Look Forwards
As is stated in the title this is part 2 of a two part blog series on how high performers reflect and goal set at the end of the year. The reason for a two part blog on this subject is simple; high performers do not charge forward into the future without the valuable knowledge gained from their previous experiences. If you’re like me and have a go go go go GOOOOOO disposition (I’m a freaking 10 Quickstart on the Kolbe A Index) it can be tempting to just jump into goal setting for the year ahead. However, any goals that one would set without the insights gained from experiences over the past year would be ill informed. In summary you have to look backwards to clearly and effectively charge ahead. Refer back to “The 6 Part High Performance Reflection Framework” in blog 1 of this series if you’ve not already read through that and then come back to this. I’ll wait right here while you do that…
Okay, ready to go? Cool, let’s do this!
The 6 Part High Performance Goal Setting Framework
Alright, enough reflection! Let’s get to the planning about how you’re going to kick ass in the year to come. I’ve worked with tons of high performers that informed “The 6 Part High Performance Reflection Framework”, and I’m leaning on those same insights to present to you “The 6 Part High Performance Goal Setting Framework”. Am I saying that these two six-part frameworks are the sole truth and path you must follow in order to become a high performer? Hell no! This is a “framework” guys, which means it’s intended to serve as a general guide to carry you forward. There’s beauty in all of us being different, and there’s no one way to becoming a high performer. However, there are certain self-evident truths that should not be ignored, and that’s what we’re we’re trying to cover here. Take this framework and bend it as you need to work for you.
The 6 Part High Performance Goal Setting Framework
- Be bold. This is not the time to shrink
- Focus on quality. Not quantity.
- Be specific on what you want
- Be specific on how you’ll achieve it
- Set your mind. Commit to discipline
- Harness incremental reassessment
1. Be Bold. This is Not the Time to Shrink
As I stated earlier there are a multitude of forces at play that are actively pulling you towards a state of mediocrity. Unfortunately, too many people fall victim to this and leave shameful amounts of their potential on the table. So, let me remind you that you are not called to be mediocre. You are called to greatness and capable of achieving it, so set your goals accordingly. Be bold in what you want to achieve for the upcoming year. Set your goals as if they’re are just out of reach of your current capabilities. Is this scary? Hell yeah it’s scary, but it’s important to set goals in this way to push yourself to the full extend unveil and claim that of which you are capable because just as you are deeply capable you are equally deeply worthy.
2. Focus on Quality. Not Quantity.
This is one of the areas that novice high achievers stumble with. Their ambition pushes them to set way too many goals. While I appreciate and applaud the ambition it’s misplaced in terms of what real high performance is all about. You see, the more seasoned high performer knows much more about the topic of value, and value is much more attributed to quality than it is quantity. High performers set no more than 3-5 highly ambitions goals in the various domains of their life that are all prolifically rich in value.
3. Be Specific On What You Want
High performers know that in order to be successful in goal setting it is imperative that you are as specific as possible. Setting general goals, such as “I want to make more money in the upcoming year” is far too directionless. If you want to visit Paris would you try to book an airline ticket to Europe? Nope, you’ve gotta fly into Charles De Gaulle or Orly if you want to indulge in baguettes, see the Orsay, or watch Iya Traore work his magic juggling a soccer ball outside of Sacre Coeur (seriously he’s awesome). Write down what goal you’re after with a high degree of specificity that would make Robert Frost envious.
4. Be Specific On How You’ll Achieve It
High performers know the difference between setting goals and making wishes. Wishes don’t require a plan to achieve them. Wishes magically happen, and as we asserted at the top high performers are made not born. Just as you’re specific on what you want, you also have to be just as specific on how you’ll go about achieving it.
Note: If you’re making “reach goals” (goals that are just beyond your current capabilities) you may not be able to form a complete plan to carry you forward. That’s totally fine! You don’t have to see the totality of what must be done to achieve this “reach goal”, but you should be able to see the first 2-3 steps you’d need to take to achieve your goal.
5. Set Your Mind. Commit to Discipline
It’s widely known that in January you’ll see many people flocking to gyms adorning themselves in new workout outfits to make good on their new years resolutions. At the start they’re may be highly motivated too, but if you look around that same gym in March these people are nowhere to be seen. Why? Simply put these people are fueling themselves only on motivation. Am I saying motivation is a bad thing? Absolutely not! Motivation is an incredibly powerful force. Think of motivation like wind and you’ve got yourself a sailboat. If you’ve got a nice and steady 18 knot breeze blowing then you my friend have a full sail and are cruising forward towards achieving your goals with little effort on your behalf. However, when that wind dies down to nothing what’s going to power your sailboat is going nowhere fast. You see, motivation is much like weather in that it’s constantly fluctuating. There will be days when you don’t have much motivation and if that’s all you’re using to drive you forward to reach your goals then what then? You must be powered by something more reliable than motivation alone. So, when that wind dies down and your sail is empty you’ve got to grab a paddle and start pulling if you want to close the gap on reaching your goals. Let’s talk discipline.
Commit to Discipline
High performers understand motivation well. They appreciate it when it’s high, but they know with absolute certainty that they can not rely on it. High performers put their faith in something much more reliable than motivation; they trust in discipline. Discipline is the act of grabbing that paddle and continuing to pull yourself towards your goals when you may not “feel like it”.
Given high performers know they must rely upon discipline they set their minds to a state where discipline is a pre-programmed constant as part of their goal attainment strategy. The best way I can simplify this notion and it’s critical nature is as follows; “Commit to discipline or commit to failure”
Note: Hey, don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself to be unmotivated from time to time. Being unmotivated does not mean you “don’t have it takes to be a high performer” by any stretch. Rather, it just means you’re human. As we often say here at The Upward Spiral, just give yourself some damn grace every once and awhile!
6. Harness Incremental Reassessment
Okay, so let’s come correct on one thing here. Planning out as far as a year is a fallacy. It’s damn near impossible to do b/c there’s too many damn variables that we can’t see and/or predict. Operating in the world is is far removed from operating in a lab environment where you can limit and control variables. The world is chaos and you’ve gotta flow with it.
High performers know this and they program set intervals where they’ll stop for a moment, get a 10,000 foot view of their situation in an effort to reassess their situation, and use this information to recalibrate their direction and efforts. Putting your head down and plowing ahead is certainly good, but if you don’t peek your head up once in awhile you run the risk of running far afield of where you want to be.
I want to stress that you have to pre-program this into your year. As Isaac Newton attests “objects in motion tend to stay in motion” and that can be diabolically true of high performers. Setup your incremental reassessments ahead of time to ensure you don’t get caught up in the momentum of your efforts and the moment.
A Note on Change: Far too many people take a hardline bullheaded approach to their efforts in thinking that they must constantly stay on track. Making a change is not necessarily tantamount to failure. Agility is a good thing. Being able to assess where you are, take in all of the factors that have presented themselves, and then shift and adapt is a admirable skill that the best high performers have worked to hone.
High performers are built through conscious action and intentional effort. As we transition from one year to the next don’t miss the opportunity to properly reflect and goal set just as high performers do. Don’t rush into the goal setting phase even though that may be enticing. Proper reflection is critical for effective goal setting, and it’s been my goal with these two blogs to demystify how high performers go about their end of year reflection and goal setting process. The frameworks I’ve provided on both reflection and goal setting are here to help guide you forward so you can achieve your goals, become a dangerously effective person, and live a rich life filled with meaning and purpose.
Now, go forward not with the goal of perfection, but with the goal of growth.
Looking Backward To Inform Our Path Forward
Here we are again. We’ve made another trip around the sun, we’re starting to wind things down, but there’s a TON of things going on. It’s an extraordinarily busy time of year, and it’s very easy to get caught up in the commotion of buying gifts, sending cards, planning visits to family, and so on. However, as a high performer it’s critically important engage in some intentional downtime that involves a two part process:
Part 1 | Look Backward & Reflect
Part 2 | Look Forward & Goal Set
Engaging in this exercise serves up tremendous benefits and allows you to go forward with greater intelligence, vision, purpose, and passion.
Part 1 | Look Backward & Reflect
Naturally, the first thing you should do is make a list of who all has wronged you over the past year, think about what those people put you through, ponder what they love most, and harness all or your rage to righteously claim your revenge by destroying what they love so you crush their spirit, and (if you’re revenging good enough) their soul. Some say revenge is a dish best served cold. I say revenge is better served with white hot rage and hatred. Just kidding… (internal monologue: but it’s a bit concerning if I’m being honest how easily all of that poured out of me. Maybe I should look into that. Nah, I’ll just stuff it down deeeeeeeeeeep and sprinkle a bit of “I’m fine” on top)
In all seriousness a ton of stuff happened to all of us in 2021. As the global pandemic has progressed we’ve all had to deal with different challenges across many aspects of our professional and personal lives. However, if you’re reading this then that means you still have breath in your lungs, and that’s something that hundreds of thousands of other people can’t say. With that being said, if your a high performer or if high-performance is something you aspire towards it’s incredibly important that you intentionally pause and reflect on your 2021 experience. The rationale here is that you want to take stock of what you’ve learned so you can put that knowledge into action as you plan ahead.
I’m breaking up this blog into a two part series where this part one is all about helping guide you through the process of how high performers intentionally reflect so they can further their capacity as being a dangerously effective person. To that end I’ve got a six point framework to help guide you through the process. Here we go…
The 6 Part High Performance Reflection Framework
- Be Open | Don’t Judge
- Take Stock of Impactful Experiences
- What Are You Proud Of
- What Are You Not So Proud Of
- What Knowledge Did You Gain
- Practice Intentional Gratitude
1. Be Open | Don’t Judge
Before you approach the process of reflection (meditation may be the better word) be intentional about setting your mind to a state of openness. All too often, and I’m speaking about myself too here, we jump straight into a mindset of judgement when it comes to things. Be mindful that you may be tempted to immediately start passing judgement on everything, but pump the breaks on that. Approach your reflection process with a mindset of total openness as this will invite a state of flow into your process that will add value to your experience.
2. Take Stock of Impactful Experiences
With your mind set to a state of openness, and keeping judgement at bay, allow yourself to reflect on what was impactful to you over the past year. Let your thoughts flow with this in mind as you are seeking out was was truly meaningful to you. Again, you’re not saying whether something is “good” or “bad”, rather you’re just saying that these experiences carried meaning and weight in your life.
3. What are you proud of
Again without applying judgement, let your mind wander over these impactful and meaningful experiences and ask yourself which of these experiences made you feel proud. Another way to think of this is which of these experiences contributed to your sense of self-worth or self-confidence. What is it specifically about these experiences that contributes to you feeling proud?
4. What are you not so proud of
Now, revisit these impactful experiences with the filter of what are you not so proud of, and then openly ponder what is it about these experiences that make you feel this way.
5. What knowledge did you gain
Here we are now to one of the most important steps and that’s looking back on what you learned from these impactful and meaningful experiences. What knowledge have you gained that you would not otherwise have if it were not for these experiences.
6. Practice Intentional Gratitude
Your mind is not too different than a google search in that your brain will return results whatever it is you’re searching for. In other words, If you’re searching for the negative, your brain will return those search results. Conversely, if you’re searching for the positive, you’ll find that. With that in mind move on to the final step of the reflection process.
Take all that you’ve learned through this process and position your mind so that you can take a 10,000 foot view of it all. As you survey and take stock of the findings begin to shift your mindset to a state of intentional gratitude. While some of these experiences made you feel good and others bad, all of these impactful and meaningful experiences uniformly carry the gift of knowledge. If you are intentional about showing gratitude, and reserving judgement through the entire process, you can see these experiences and the knowledge that they carried as the gifts that they are.
Being a high performer is all about being intentional with your efforts, learning from your experiences, strategically applying fresh knowledge, and then giving it another go. It’s the end of the year and as such it’s a wonderful time to reflect on your experiences with a clear head and open mind. Survey what’s been impactful, and grab whatever lessons you’ve learned. Most importantly, make a point of having a mindset of intentional gratitude regarding your experiences.
In Part 2 of this installment we’re going to set our sights forward towards thinking about what you want out of the next year. It takes some reflection and intentional gratitude-based goal setting, but it will be worth your while in the end. By reflecting on this past year and positioning yourself for a new one with an open mind, without judgement or preconceived notions, you’ll have more clarity on how to get where you need to go. What outcome do you hope for? Who are going after? And what would make you feel good about that outcome? Ask these questions as they pertain specifically to your professional life and personal life separately before coming together at the end of this process with a clearer vision of both areas moving forward into 2022. In doing so, not only will set goals that are achievable and realistic, but they will also be in line with your values. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll explore how to put all of this into action.
Oh, and don’t forget; be kind to yourself!
How do you think about failure? Do you think of failure as something to be avoided at all costs? Do you see failure as something to be ashamed of? If you fail at something does this mean that you are a failure? Is this how you see failure, or perhaps do you have a different perspective?
The simple fact is that our society has heavily influenced and pre-programmed how we view, approach, and engage with failure, and if you are seeking a path of high performance this programming on failure must be undone if you are to have a chance of success. Make no mistake that failure does not feel good, it’s natural to want to avoid it, and it can shake one’s confidence. However, if you want become a high performer you must change your mindset on and relationship with failure. This blog is here to serve as a guide to understand how society has programmed our thinking on failure, and to serve as primer for reprogramming your mindset on failure so you can achieve high performance.
How society has programmed us to view success and failure
What did you learn in school? Certainly, you learned about math, science, reading, writing, and so on, but school also taught us something else. We received grades for our work that quantified how well we did or did not do, and depending upon how your family viewed these grades the line between success and failure varied a bit. Regardless of where the line between failure and success was drawn for you, you either landed on one side of that line or the other. In this context failure was absolutely something to be avoided. Failure was not tolerated, and if you failed you could not move forward. In this scenario of school we were taught that failure was bad, and our goal was set to perfection embodied by the A+ or 4.0 GPA.
What does social media teach us about success and failure? Well, we see plenty of success across the platforms of facebook and instagram don’t we. We see highlight reels of people we know playing out on these platforms, and we also see other people we don’t know that seems to be living their best life with ease. Do we see failure across these platforms? To be fair, if you were to look at my Instagram feed you’d see video after video of people falling off of skateboards and landing in the worst possible way on a rail, people getting kicked in the face point blank by a soccer ball, and all other kinds of calamity. Okay I’m off track and I apologize 🙂
As we see these people on social media seemingly kicking ass at life we don’t see any hints of failure as part of their story. All we see in these streams is a seemingly effortless depiction of success in terms of money, health, style, relationships, etc, and if we take what we see at face value then the natural avenue of thought is “why is it that these people are able to effortlessly succeed and kick ass in life while I can’t stop stumbling”. In other words we think something is wrong with ourselves because we experience failure, and that is out of alignment with what we see, therefore we think we are inherently flawed by comparison. However, this is all a lie. You are not flawed because you fail; you fail because you are human.
Why this programming holds us back form high performance
Our society has taught us through a massive array of channels that if you’re failing you are not succeeding. It has taught us that failure is bad, and something to be ashamed of. It has taught us that we must avoid failure at any and all costs. The consequence of this is that we set our eyes towards perfection, which is completely unattainable.
So where does the situation of strive for perfection and avoid failure at all costs leave most of us? Stuck, that’s where. In an effort to avoid failure we play it safe. We engage in what we know we’ll succeed in which keeps us small. This relationship with failure or success keeps people from achieving a state of high performance as high performance is not found in operating in safety.
Why this programming on failure restricts a high performance mindset
In the game of life are you playing to win or are you playing not to lose? If we acted based upon how society has taught us to think about failure it is likely that we will spend our lives making decision after decision based upon what is the “safest” decision while concurrently helping us avoid failure. The problem with this approach is that we are contained to operate within what we already know, otherwise known as our “comfort zone”. We stay here in our comfort zone and we build up walls and other safeguards to keep us out of harms way and in doing so we vastly limit our opportunity for growth. We don’t look for ways to expand and grow our lives because that means dipping our toes into the unknown and flirting with unpredictability.
Growth is not found in our comfort zone
Growth, and the pursuit of it, is a staple in high performers, and growth is often not found while operating within our comfort zone. Rather, growth is found beyond our current horizons. Growth lies beyond what we already know, and beyond our current competencies. In order to access true growth we must seek to expand into the wild that lies beyond the self-constructed walls of safety that not only keep out scary things of the world, but also hold us prisoner to a life resigned to apathy and complacency; which is truly the greatest risk of all. It is time for you to take courage and go beyond your walls, risking uncertainty in pursuit of a life of growth, purpose, and value.
Reprogramming our mindset of failure to access high performance
If it is to be understood that growth lies outside of our comfort zone, any engagement outside of our comfort zone incorporates risk of failure which we are trained to avoid. How is it that those in pursuit of high performance can break free of shackles of how society has taught us to think about failure? How does this reprogramming begin, and what does a proper relationship with failure look like? The first step is to put failure into the proper context.
Putting Failure Into Context | Why high performers fail more
If you talk with anyone who is truly successful about their path to success they will likely tell you more stories about where they failed than when things worked out. Conversely, if you talk with someone living a mediocre life it’s likely they will not be able to tell you many stories about failure. How interesting is it that those who are successful have more stories of failure than those who are living a mediocre life. Society would have us think that it’s the other way around, but reality proves a different tale. The simple fact is that high performers actually fail more than any other group of people. How can this possibly be the case? There are three things you need to know about high performers that explains this phenomenon.
The cycle of failure, growth, success
High performers and the highly successful, compared to others, have taken far more risks, failed more, learned more, reconfigured their efforts more, they redeploy being far smarter than they were before, and this cycle repeats over and over and over again. While their peers are playing it, high performers are out in the wilderness forging ahead, and with each step and misstep they are getting better, dangerously more capable, smarter, more confident, and courageous. This cycle of failure, growth, success becomes routine.
High performers operate at the edge of their abilities
When high performers engage in improving their craft they intentionally train just beyond the edge of their current abilities. This is one of the hallmark points made by Daniel Coyle in his book “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How” as he dives into figuring how how the best athletes train, and working to understand why there is world class talent being produced and developed in certain pockets of the world.
Training just beyond your abilities does not look, sound, or feel great because you’re constantly messing up. You’re trying to learn something new and that means you must practice things you have not yet mastered. From the outside looking in it may seem like the individual who’s training just beyond their ability is not competent, but make no mistake about it; they are growing and working towards mastery.
Again, high performers get out of their comfort zone while mediocre people never leave it.
High performers fail forward
High performers do not automatically view failure as a setback that carries them away from their goals. Rather, they see failure as a necessary step in making forward progress to unlocking their goals. This is commonly known as “failing forward“. In this light a “failure” is actually considered a forward step, whereas inaction is considered a proper failure given there is no chance of any progressive movement.
5 Aspect of The High Performance Mindset on Failure
Habits are difficult to break, and there’s no reason why you should think reprogramming how society has shaped your mindset on failure will be any different. Make no mistake that it will be a difficult process, but rest assured that any difficulties you experience pale in comparison to what you’ll get in return. In an effort to help guide your process of reprogramming your mindset on failure we’ve listed five specific areas you can focus your efforts on.
1. Don’t run from failure; embrace it
Nobody likes the experience of failure, but it’s a rite of passage for anyone who wants to attain high performance. In fact failure is a critical aspect of attaining high performance as failure gives us the opportunity to gauge our progress, as well as learn from what we’ve done and develop the skills we’ll need in order be successful in future activities.
2. Failure means growth
Failure is true path towards growth. Failure increases your potential for success as failure is how one learns to succeed.
3. Failing does not mean you are a failure
People often, and tragically confuse the experience of failing with being a failure. If you are intentionally operating outside of your comfort zone in order to reach and grow beyond your current means then you are endeavoring towards something noble. Your moment of experiencing failure is temporary, and it is not a reflection on you, your intelligence, your character, or your potential. As the saying goes “you are only a failure when you stop trying”. Failure is not a permanant condition, but rather it’s a necessary toll on the road to greatness.
4. Failure is experience,
It is uniformly understood that across professional and personal domains that experience is deeply valuable. What is failure if not a deep and impactful experience. While you may not have gotten the outcome you had hoped for you most certainly have gained an experience which bears the gift of knowledge and being able to share a good story. By the way, no good story ever follows the arc of “I set out to do something, I did it without any troubles ,and everything worked out as planned”. So, I guess if you don’t take anything away from this just know that because of your experience with failure you may be the most interesting person at the party!
5. Failure is the basis of empathy
When you are going through a difficult time it feels much better hearing from someone who has shared a similar experience and lived to tell the tale compared to any attempts at comfort from someone else who has no idea what you’re experiencing. Connecting with people through the basis of understanding through a shared or similar experience is the basis of an empathetic connection, and it’s these types of connections that are extremely meaningful. Your failures are experiences that will more than likely add to your ability to help support others, and form deep and meaningful connections. If you’re wealthy in experiences then you’re wealthy in terms of your ability to connect with others.
It’s not failure that is the problem, but rather how society has framed failure as an entirely negative outcome. Re-framing your mindset on failure will help become a high performer and live a rich life of deep meaning, purpose, and value. Don’t run from failure, embrace it, and don’t let its value slip through your fingers!
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to get back to you with a response Also, feel free to share this article if you enjoyed it with your friends – Cody Strate
There are plenty of people in this world satisfied with achieving a certain level of comfort and then putting things on cruise control ceasing any meaningful growth. On the other hand there are those rare individuals who are not satisfied with simply living a life of comfort. These people are the high performers in life. They work their asses off to achieve their personal and professional goals. These individuals are dangerously effective at what they do and more akin to forces of nature than anything else. Simply put, they can’t be stopped. These high performers are constantly chasing growth and improvement, but is there an end to this pursuit of growth? Do they arrive at some level and then stop? Do they become satisfied, and then take a breath? In this blog we’re going to explore the question of is there an end to the pursuit of growth for high achieving individuals.
Are High Performers Born or Made?
In order to fully understand the answer to the question of is there an end to the pursuit of growth we must first explore the question of whether or not these high performers are born or made. Yes, our DNA does play a factor in here, but our DNA does not fully govern our decisions. Our environment and our experiences shape who we become. The saying that “we are the sum of our experiences” is incredibly true. Simply put, if you want to become a high performer in life, then you have to surround yourself with high performers and constantly be learning from them. You also have to be willing to do the hard things that other people are not willing to do.
Essentially, being a high performer and a highly effective person is a choice, or rather it’s the culmination of thousands of choices throughout our life that are all framed by intent. Being a high performer does not happen by accident, it’s not a divine decision, and if you’re seeing it that way then you’re embracing a victim mindset.
So, based upon this understanding that high performers are forged over time by a series of decisions framed by intent, we can start to approach the question of is there an end to the pursuit of growth.
Curiosity & A Thirst for Knowledge | A Sustaining Fuel for Growth
As one initially commits to becoming a high performer they often dive headlong into doing what it takes to grow in their desired domain. At first this endeavor towards growth can take large amounts of intent, effort, energy, and discipline given that the act of growing is inherently hard. However, there is often a correlation between the value you receive from taking on a significant challenge and seeing it through. In other words doing the hard things produce high value whereas doing the easy things yields little value.
It feels incredibly rewarding attaining the meaningful growth, confidence, experience, and skills from taking on a difficult challenge. This reward can embolden us to keep pushing ourselves harder and growing even more. While this reward most certainly can serve to propel us forward into more challenging endeavors, there is another force that’s much more powerful at play; curiosity and the thirst for knowledge.
What’s Around The Next Corner
I live in Colorado and I love to get out in nature, hike, climb mountains, and so on. As On any hiking trail you only have so much line of sight, meaning you can only see so far in front of you before there is a turn in the trail, there’s an obstacle blocking the trail, or the trail may go over a ridge that you can’t see beyond. As I approach this temporary twist, turn, obstacle, I’m always wondering what lies just beyond my sight. What amazing view, river, waterfall could be on the other side, and as soon as I can see what’s on the other side I start looking for what lies around the next bend. This is what hiking for me is like. It’s a series of not being able to see beyond a point, being curious about what awesome thing is on the other side, endeavoring to that point, delighting in my discovery, and then repeating the cycle by being curious about what’s beyond the next bend. This same sense of curiosity, wonder, and pursuit of knowledge has been the fuel in my own pursuit of growth.
As a high performer we are driving by a desire to improve, but we are also driving by curiosity. We want to know what’s knowledge is around the next bend and that curiosity is what propels high performers forward.
The growth in a high performer is not linear. What starts out as hard becomes easier with growth and success, but the pursuit of growth doesn’t ever end. Curiosity compels us to explore what’s around the next bend because we want to know whatever amazing thing lies beyond our sight. In this article I’ve tried to answer the question “does the pursuit of growth ever end?” by exploring how curiosity fuels growth for those who are pursuing it. Growth never ends when you’re driven by curiosity, which helps explain why there is no finite point where your journey towards meaningful growth can be considered complete.
In previous blogs we’ve talked about what it looks like when people are living on autopilot and why they should stop being a passenger in their own lives. That’s all well and good, and there are quite a few people who don’t want to live life on autopilot. They want more and they would like to experience meaningful growth in their personal and professional lives. However, they can’t ever seem to access the growth they’re after. So what’s the problem?
The problem is mindset. Mindset is a fundamental part of how people view themselves, others, and their relationships with others. It also has a significant impact on how people make decisions in both their professional lives and personal lives.
This article is all about helping people identify when their mindset in sabotaging their growth and provide a clear picture on how to form a mindset that will lead towards meaningful growth.
- Why Mindset Is Everything
- Signs That Your Mindset is Sabotaging Your Growth
- How to Change Your Mindset So You Can Access Meaningful Growth
Why Mindset Is Everything
Living a stagnant life is just about the worst thing that can happen to people. They get stuck in their mindset about work, about their lives, and ultimately they end up dead after living out their years doing the same thing over and over and over. Mindset is the primary reason why so many people are suffering from meaninglessness. Unfortunately, these people realize what they’re doing, and they’re totally okay with it. This article is not for these people because they would prefer comfort over progress.
On the other hand you’ve got the group of people who want more in life. They’re willing to take risks, put in work, and set their egos aside in order to experience meaningful growth. In order to sustain the level of effort and discipline over time it is absolutely essential that you have a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is a person’s mindset about the belief that their skills and abilities can be developed through personal effort, good teaching, and persistence. This means the individual believes they have the power to change their life for the better.
A person who has a growth mindset believes that all people have unlimited possibilities if they work hard and invest in their future. A person with a growth mindset believes that it is his or her responsibility to manage his or her own thoughts and feelings, as well as take personal responsibility for present experiences. A person with a growth mindset also believes that determination and effort will lead to success. They do not believe in self-handicapping by expecting failure before taking action on something they perceive as difficult.
If you set yourself up with this growth mindset then you’re going to be more likely to take risks, work harder than most people, and always do what you can to improve yourself. You’re also going to believe that your chances of success are pretty good as long as you stay persistent. These are all key characteristics for having meaningful growth in your personal and professional lives.
Signs That Your Mindset is Sabotaging Your Growth
While having a properly dialed in growth mindset is fantastic, it’s common for people experience slow incremental shifts from a growth mindset into a mindset that’s ideal for accessing meaningful growth. Again, accessing meaningful personal and professional growth is experienced over time and it comes at a high cost. Given this shift away from your ideal growth mindset can occur slowly over time this presents rather significant challenge because it’s difficult to spot these subtle shifts in mindset over time. This is why it’s so important to be on the lookout for any of these signs because if left unattended your mindset can sabotage your mission of attaining meaningful personal and professional growth. Here are some signs to be on the look out for that serve as the tale-tale indicators your mindset is sabotaging your path towards growth.
1. A lack of desire to learn new things
If you aren’t willing to learn new things that can help you succeed then what’s the point of even trying? If there’s no desire for learning and growth than your mindset is not conducive to obtaining the meaningful growth you seek. Strong self-awareness is critical in understanding whether or not a lack of desire for learning will be a problem.
Complaining & refusal to take action
This is extremely common with people who have slipped to a fixed mindset. If you’re complaining about your situation then you may be on a path to a victim mentality. Worse is when you complain about your circumstances, but are unwilling to put in the effort to change your circumstances.
Fear of taking risks
This fear typically manifests itself as excuses or a lack of knowledge on how to overcome risk and challenges. It’s easy to fear taking risk, but in order to have meaningful growth you need to take some risks. If you’re letting your fear of uncertainty prevent you from taking risks and experiencing forward movement then you’re sabotaging yourself.
A false projection of confidence
This is one of the most common signs that your mindset is sabotaging you for growth. Many people start to spend quite a bit of effort towards projecting themselves as being super confident. Normally, this is an overextension aimed at covering up known of subconsciously known inadequacies.
Your discipline is slipping
The thing about doing the hard things is that they’re hard. Your motivation and enthusiasm will come and go, and it can’t be depended on. You have to trust in discipline if you want to see the acquisition of meaningful growth through. If your discipline is wavering then you’re mindset needs to be checked.
Giving up too easily
Are you giving up too easily when the going gets tough? Are you folding over too easily when you know you’ve got the strength in you? If you’re looking for meaningful growth then you need to have a mindset that’s ready to push itself through the hard times, and if you’re folding too easily it’s likely your mindset is off.
5. Negative self-talk
I know all about negative self-talk. I personally get all in my head sometimes and do not speak kindly to myself. How is that you can expect to be a victor when you’re talking shit about yourself? If you’re in this negative self-talk headspace then you’ve mindset is off.
Self-handicapping is a bitch of a thing. We deep-six ourselves when we expect failure before we even begin to take any action. Why do we do this mentality? Do we really not believe that we have the ability, drive, grit, and determination to achieve success. This is what it looks like when life kicks us in the nuts over and over, and we believe that we’re not enough. It’s not true and this can be a killer in terms of keeping people from accessing the meaningful growth they’re after.
How to Change Your Mindset So You Can Access Meaningful Growth
So, the question becomes how do you get your mindset back on track to access meaningful growth? Well, it’s not easy but it can be done. Let me share with you some strategies I personally use to maintain a great mindset for personal and professional growth.
1. Read regularly
Regular reading of books is super important for maintaining a growth mindset. You’re exercising your brain by reading, which keeps it at peak performance for when you really need to use it in an intense way. When your mind is at its best then you can push through any mental barriers that are causing you problems during the pursuit of growth.
2. Challenge yourself regularly
It’s important to keep pushing yourself in your daily life. Make it a goal to do the things that make you uncomfortable, or areas in which you feel inadequate. These are growth opportunities in disguise, and they’re there for you when you need them most if you can learn to see them.
3. Get in contact with former mentors
When my mindset is in the gutter I reach out to my former mentors and get their mentorship. It’s a big deal when you have the opportunity to be coached by people that know more than you do about a subject or topic. I take advantage of this as often as possible because it always helps me get back on track.
4. Find positive accounts
When I read positive accounts, I read the kinds of things that inspire me to be a better person. This helps me get in touch with positive messages about life and it gives my mindset a healthy injection of good attitudes to keep pushing forward in a meaningful way.
5. Find negative accounts
The other thing I do is find negative accounts. These are usually people that are struggling with life, and I put myself in their shoes. This is where empathy comes into play, because if I can imagine what they’re feeling then it might help me understand my own feelings of inadequacy or failure, which is often where the problem lies.
6. Find accounts that scare you
When you find these negative accounts it’s important to find some that scare you. When I read these kinds of stories they really bother me because my blood is boiling with anger over being treated poorly or dealt a bad hand. When I read them I’m reminded of just how lucky I am, and that allows me to lift up my head and push through whatever mental barriers are holding me back.
Don’t let your mindset get in the way of your personal and professional growth. If you’re feeling stressed, inadequate, or frustrated with life then it’s probably time to start making some changes to get on track with accessing the meaningful growth that’s available for you. A great place to start is by pushing through limiting attitudes and maintaining a growth mindset that will serve you well.
Many people are looking for some real meaningful growth in their personal and professional lives but they can’t access that growth because their mindset is off. If you want real meaningful growth in your personal and professional life you need to focus on having the right mindset. This blog is all about helping people understand what it looks like when a poor mindset is getting in the way and how to change that to a positive mindset so they can attain real meaningful growth. A great place to start changing your attitude might be by reading more books, challenging yourself regularly, or contacting former mentors who have been there before where you’re at now. The key point here is recognizing when an unhealthy mental state has come between you and your goals, which will allow you to make changes necessary for growth and success.
So you want meaningful growth that leads to a rich life filled with deep value, meaning, and purpose? Sounds great right, and who would not want that. However, are you willing to do what it takes to achieve this? Do you have the stamina, drive, discipline, determination, and grit, or are you looking for quick fixes, and easy solutions? Well, the thing about genuine and meaningful growth that leads to a rich life is not for the timid, the weak, or those looking for the easy path. You’ve got to be willing to do the hard things, and face the hard truths this kind of growth requires. While the cost is great, I can promise you that the value is unlike anything else.
If you want meaningful growth, then stop being a choosing the easy path over and over and start doing what’s necessary. The first step is accepting where you are right now and then going from there. Get honest with yourself about who you are and what needs to happen for meaningful change to take place in your life or business–and then do those things!
Clearly, achieving meaningful growth is does not come from taking the easy path. Meaningful growth is hard fought, hard won, and it comes at a cost. In this article we’re going to take a focused look at the following topics in an effort to clearly break down the cost of meaningful growth:
- Defining the Goal | A Rich Life of Intent, Action, Purpose, and Meaning
- Breaking Down the Cost
- A discussion on Cost & Value
Defining the Goal | A Rich Life of Intent, Action, Purpose, and Meaning
As we kick this off, we need to make it very clear what your goal is and why meaningful growth is required to access it. So, let’s get right to it! What we challenge you to aspire to is a rich life that has deep meaning and really matters. We really did a deep dive into this in one of our blog articles titled “STOP BEING A PASSENGER IN YOUR LIFE | LIVE A RICH LIFE OF INTENT, ACTION, PURPOSE, AND MEANING“.
However, accessing this kind of rich life can’t be found through taking the easy options in life. Instead, meaningful growth is required in order to access an incredible life that matters, and this kind of growth comes with a cost. Let’s take a closer look at what this cost looks like.
Breaking Down the Cost
Pride & Ego
One of the biggest factors that prevent people from attaining the meaningful growth required to access a rich life is their pride and ego. An essential precursor to growth is that in pursuit of a new mindset, skillset, or knowledge you have to go through a learning phase where you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. You’ll make mistakes, take missteps, and encounter failure. And when you do that your pride will take a hit.
There is no way around it.
Now, the more prideful and ego-driven you are, the harder this will be. The reason for that is such individuals often believe they already know everything there is to know on a particular topic–the truth of course being they don’t. We all have blind spots and our own individual knowledge has limitations. So the question becomes: do you want meaningful growth or not?
If you’re willing to do what it takes then the act of sacrificing your ego and pride will be a lot easier to deal with, but if not then meaningful growth won’t happen. Thus, meaningful growth requires that you are able to humble yourself in order to learn new things–and that’s a pain in the ass.
From our perspective, meaningful growth requires that we get over ourselves and not be so concerned about what people think of us and how it might affect our standing or ego. When you can do this, meaningful growth seems to flow way easier and the cost is far less than before.
A Willingness to Do the Hard Things
The next major cost associated with meaningful growth is that it requires that you are willing to do the hard things, and the thing about doing the hard things is that they are, well… hard. Generally, when people are presented with an easy option and a hard option, naturally they often will select the easier of the two options. That’s the path we call the “EASY PATH”. The hard path is not only arduous and filled with pain, but it seems to have a high probability of failure. So why bother taking that course?
If you look at things like improving your health, learning a new language, learning how to play an instrument, becoming a master marketer, master gardener, or attain a black belt in jiujitsu, they all take a commitment to do the hard thing over and over again. This commitment to doing the hard thing over and over again is where a commitment to discipline kicks in.
A Commitment to Discipline
In order to consistently do the hard things over time it is critical that you rely on discipline over motivation. It’s great to be motivated and have a swelling of energy to tackle something, but the thing about motivation is that it comes and goes. Motivation waivers, and that’s why you need to rely on discipline in order to do the hard things over and over again with the consistency required to attain meaningful growth.
A Willingness to Take Responsibility
Another significant cost of achieving meaningful growth is a willingness to take responsibility in your life. Many people view themselves as victims who are unwitting participants in life and are not at any fault for what happens to them. This is the absolute wrong mindset to have if you want a rich life. You must be able to look at your circumstances in life and accept responsibility for your actions and that you have not had life happen to you, but you have happened to life.
This willingness to take responsibility puts the power in your hands–you are suddenly able to identify what went wrong and how it affected your quest for meaningful growth. Those taking a passive approach at life give up the opportunity to exercise any agency in their lives. Taking responsibility at every step of your life is a prime differentiator in mindset between those that will reach a rich life vs. those that won’t. In the end, you have to decide whether you are a victim in life, or a victor.
A Discussion on Cost & Value
Whether we are talking about material things, experiences, competencies, relationships, and so on, the things in life that we see as being high in value are often also high in cost. It is fundamentally important that you understand that there is a direct correlation between value and cost. Things that are “cheap” do not offer much value. Things that are of high value don’t come cheap.
However, when it comes to areas surrounding meaningful growth, yes there is a high cost to attain whatever it is you’re after. However, the value that you get in return for your investment often pays incredible dividends over time making meaningful growth an exceptional investment in your time and resources. Furthermore, meaningful growth will build on itself. In other words it’s kind of like leveling up in a video game. Level 1, 2, and 3 are pretty easy, but by the time you’re at level 28 things can get pretty intense. However, you’re prepared for what level 28 has to throw at you because you have been leveling up yourself all through the journey.
Meaningful growth and the pursuit of a rich life of intent, action, purpose, and meaning come at a high cost. However, you have time on your side, so invest in attaining important things, skills, competencies, knowledge, relationships, and so on as these will pay tremendous dividends in your life. You will level up along the way and be able to access different areas of experience and growth that would not have otherwise been accessible to you. Take meaningful growth seriously. Do the hard things and pay the high cost, but enjoy the wealth of meaningfulness that comes to you as a result.
Don’t be afraid of meaningful growth, do the hard things over and over again, take responsibility for your life, and enjoy the value that meaningful growth brings forth in you.
If you want meaningful growth in your life and career, it will cost you time and effort. You’ll be tempted to give up when things get difficult, but don’t! The process can often be a painful one, but the end result of significant meaningful growth is worth all that pain. It’s okay if meaningful growth comes with some costs; what matters most is that these investments bring about great value for years or decades to come. Don’t let yourself off the hook by taking shortcuts – do whatever it takes to pursue genuine meaningfulness in your life.