Reject the Comfortable Path

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If you want something different, you have to do something different. You have to break away from conforming and pursue that vision and passion that will fulfill you and make a difference in the world. To do this you must overcome the pull from the world around you to be mediocre.

I love Natalie Coughlin's story as an example of the bravery it takes to overcome. She swam in the Summer Olympics in 2004 and won two gold medals, two silver and one bronze. She also broke a world record. In 2008 she became the first American female athlete to win six medals in a single Olympics. However, because of the wear and tear on her body, she was forced to endure two shoulder surgeries soon after the 2008 Olympics. Typically, someone in this position would expect to retire, or at best still compete but at a lower level. However, Coughlin bravely stepped out of competitive swimming for 18 months to rebuild. She found coach, Teri McKeever, who helped her get back into the elite level of swimming using an unusual approach. Instead of concentrating on rebuilding strength in her upper body, they focused on legs, used Pilates and strengthened the connection between her arms and legs through the core of her body, enhancing her physical abilities for competitive swimming. In 2012, she qualified for the Olympics and took home a twelfth Olympic medal, tying the record for the most Olympic medals for a female US athlete.

If you want to be different, you have to think differently. Break out of the mold. Turn away from doing things the same way everyone else is doing them. People who excel are intentional. They decide on their destination, assess and learn what it will take to get there, find the right people to speak into their journey, and then do what’s necessary to find their way there. A successful person says, “I’m going to do this,” and then starts the process and actually walks the walk – instead of just talking the talk.

Vision evolves but successful people set the destination, work to arrive at that destination, sacrificing time and resources along the way, reevaluate the destination, correct course, sacrifice more time and resources, etc. John Maxwell has stated that there are people who want to be what he is – a successful author, a renowned speaker, a coveted mentor, and much more. But his reaction to someone who has that dream is “Are you willing to do what I did?”

Once you have a clear vision, develop the plan, begin taking the steps and then be prepared to actively reject everything that works to hold you back. You will be told you can’t do it. You will be told it’s too much, too hard, not worth it. But I think, if it is a vision and a passion within you, that there is possibly a higher purpose that is attached to it and it is absolutely worth exploring and pursuing. In fact, the more obstacles you face, the more likely you are to come up with a new way of accomplishing what you have in your heart to accomplish. Reject the comfortable path and be courageous.

An adult wants to know that his or her life has counted for something; that their life has made a difference in the world. Do you want to live an extraordinary life, do extraordinary things, achieve your goals and leave your mark on the world? Then you will have to do what others aren’t doing – as early as possible. If you wait for the rest of the world to find value in the things you want to do, those things won’t be worth doing any longer. Muster courage to forego fitting in with those around you and pursue your heart’s passion. If you do, you will find yourself in places others dared not to go.

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