The growth zone is beyond the zone of comfort – Get out of this Decay Zone and move forward
We all wish to be successful and happy. We want name and fame. We desire to be popular. Ironically, we want it easily. All successful and famous people, whom you admire and emulate, worked and sweated while the rest of the world was sleeping.
Remember, success lies outside of the Comfort-Zone
Recently, I observed Indian woman wrestler Sakshi Malik grappling at the Rio 2016 Olympics. After the nail-biting finish, her eyes were gleaming with pride as the Bronze medal was presented to her. This was a moment of pride not just for her but for the whole nation. However, for this one moment, she had toiled for 12 long years. Her 100% focus was just on wrestling and nothing else. That’s the way things are for all those who want to succeed. You need to find your passion, give it undeterred focus, rapt attention and 100% energy and then “go for it.” Success has no choice but to find you.
Why success means running along towards the painful path? Is it really worth it to sleep less every day and make life miserable by bringing in stress, worries and overall unbalancing your life? This is an argument that was posed to me a few days ago. “Yes,” I said. “If you want success, the choice here is between mediocrity and excellence. It’s a deliberate choice you need to make.”
Here is a story from my life. I was just commissioned into the Indian Army. One day, while travelling, I got down at a bus stop, walked to the Book stall to pick up a copy of my favourite magazine, JS or Junior Statesman, as it was first called. Today’s generation may not recollect this. This was a large-sized album in which only the cover and the centerspread were coloured. Rest was all black and white. The centre spreads could be pulled out and it served as a poster. I quickly bought a copy and, with utmost anxiety opened it up to see who ‘the star of the month’ was. I was pleasantly surprised. It was none other than my friend Second Lieutenant Swapan Bhadra, winner of the “Sword of Honour” in our course. He was seen in his ‘Blue Patrol’, the ceremonial uniform of the IMA (Indian Military Academy) proudly holding the sword, presented to him by the President of India V V Giri. I was delighted beyond measure to see the picture of my friend instead of a regular film-star or a sports celebrity. And then a thought crossed my mind. I am sure you will be able to guess. “I could have been in this picture, only if I had worked a little harder.”
I sat in the bus and my thoughts wandered to the four years that had flown past in at the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla in Pune followed by training at IMA. I was in a batch of about 200 cadets. But there was only one Sword of Honour. What made that happen? I soon realised that while all of us aimed and dreamt of passing out, and wearing that single star of a Second Lieutenant, Swapan Bhadra had a clear goal. He was determined. He had the courage to step out of the comfort zone. While many of us ‘tried’ he ‘did’ it. He won the sword of honour. So don’t try, just do it! Life offers many choices. It is up to each of us to aim high or settle for the ordinary. His aim was to win the sword of honour and he got it. The rest of us settled for just a star on our shoulders, and again, we got what we aimed for.
Another question. Does everyone have to excel? Is it necessary that all 200 of should have aimed for the Sword of Honour? Is it necessary that all of us need to win an Olympic medal or climb the Mount Everest? The answer is certainly ‘No.’ We can opt to live an ordinary man’s life and go away from this world as insignificantly as we came in. It’s certainly not essential to be shining stars. But then, one thing is clear. We must make a clear choice between excellence and mediocrity. We cannot be mediocre and expect the fun and glamour that excellence brings in. If you like to be a mediocre than stop craving for the taste of success or the fun that a sense of achievement brings.
Let’s get started then.
Obstruction, hurdles, obstacles…
On a Dynamic Obstacle Course (which I renamed as Dynamic Challenge Course), we have an activity where you have to use the wooden structures to go across without touching the ground. People often refer to these structures as obstacles. In the debriefing, I often ask participants if they are really obstacles? After a little thought usually they come up with something positive and brilliant.
“No sir, they are enablers.”
Yes, they are actually not obstacles but enablers, aids to success. What about the things you have considered obstacles in your life? Are these challenges that you face or even voluntarily create for yourself (like the Himalayan Car Rally example, coming up later) really obstacles?
“No, they are enablers,” is the chorus.
Indeed. Anything that makes one tougher and helps one grow and attempt bigger challenges is an enabler. There are a few simple steps to turning something that appears to be an obstacle or a hindrance into something that is a force of good in your mind. The way you speak about it has to change. Here is how you change the language in the head to change the reality outside.
- Use positive words
- Use appropriate and powerful words
- Use correct tone. The message is conveyed 10 % by the meaning of the word and 90% by the way you say it – tone, body language, among others.
What to avoid:
- Negative words
- Words like no, don’t, not, but, if, among others
Becoming extraordinary requires grit and determination. It demands sweat and toil. It commands a high sense of self-discipline. When you achieve it, you get into, what Founder and CEO of Mindvalley Vishen Lakhiani calls, Blissipline. I simply loved the term and was inspired by him when I heard him in September 2015 in Mumbai. And I related to this word. It resonates with me. When you acquire the power of self-discipline, you are truly in bliss.
In reality, we can all be extraordinary. The key is to realise that being extraordinary is a personal choice. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or financially struggling, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re old or young, or whether you fit into any other category, you can choose to be extraordinary.
However, the moot question remains: Where do you start? The answer is: You take it one step at a time. The old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step is so true.
Every day, make the choice to be extraordinary at whatever it is you’re planning to do. It’s a daily decision.
Take a few minutes each day to think about what an extraordinary person in your situation would do. Then, take that action rather than what you were going to do. Soon, people will look at you and say, “Amazing! You are so extraordinary!”
An extract from my first imperfect book “Design Your Life”