Sometimes, when we want something really badly, we get so wrapped up in it that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Our desire and effort towards our goal actually hinder our progress. We hit a plateau and stop seeing results and in response we work harder and harder, banging our head against the proverbial wall without observing whether or not our efforts are still effective. This happens to everyone in different aspects of their lives. Athletes will experience it differently than professional speakers. Sometimes it’s called writer’s block, sometimes it’s called a rut, but regardless, the answer can often be found by taking a step back. Removing yourself from the situation in order to gain some new insight into how to continue making progress.
This is one of the hardest ideas to grasp because so often, in the moment, this feels like giving up. It feels like defeat. You make the choice to stop trying for a while. Other people look at you and wonder what is wrong. Let yourself step away. Don’t be swayed into continued head banging. You know what is best for you.
Society doesn’t embrace this practice, especially American society. The American dream is about persistence in the face of adversity until you have overcome your obstacles. No one tells you about their year long break in order to make sure they are headed in the right direction. All they tell you is that they worked hard and succeeded.
Studying the success of others is a tricky business. It’s very easy to find the results of their successes. It is incredibly difficult to find the history of failures and learning experiences that got them there. Michael Jordan has a great quote acknowledging how failure has made him a success:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan
So if you’re feeling a bit stuck, take a step back. Let things come to you. Keep a positive attitude and be open to a new avenue of progress. It will come.
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