No one characteristic defines success, but we should consider expertise and character. Some people find success through their expertise. Others find success by utilizing great character and relying on others for expertise. Which do you utilize best?
This is obviously not a right or wrong question. We need both character and expertise to succeed. You alone can’t be successful. It requires the help of other people. Even when it feels like you are working on a project by yourself, you are probably getting help from sources such as books, videos, research data, or online searches. Many times we forget to be thankful for all that help.
Our work is impacted by our character. Our character is embedded in what we do. It exists the results of the work, and also in how the results impact others. The things we value will be visible in our output and our actions.
When we take time to reflect on our successes or our challenges, the scale between expertise and character can give us new insight. What would improve your results over the next week? Should you invest more time in your character or your expertise?
I grew up without seat belts, air bags, and bicycle helmets. Cars did not have backup cameras and sensors. In my youth, we were anything but safe. I rode my bike on busy streets with no bike path. I talked with strangers. I drank water directly from the garden hose. I built many unsafe and unstable tree houses. My friends and I used to play war games. We did not have paint ball guns. We used BB guns, and I am amazed no one lost an eye.
The world has changed since then. We have a new level of safety and comfort. That is great, but our life’s purpose is not safety and comfort.
Life is not without risk. Each day we face struggles that change us, and challenge us. We long to be safe, secure, and comfortable. Yet, we grow because of risk. We don’t improve through comfort. We improve through the trials of our lives.
Let’s examine purpose. First eliminate safety. Then eliminate comfort. Then eliminate the pursuit of personal possessions. Now define purpose. Hopefully you have uncovered more important pursuits.
Think about our daily routines. We want comfort, safety, and possessions that make life livable. Those things can be a goal, but each day we will grow if we include the pursuit of a bigger purpose. Get uncomfortable. You will survive.
Recently a friend of mine was worried that he was not going to meet important project requirements for his job. I helped him break down major tasks and had him define how much time each task needed. Our discussion took less than ten minutes. Afterwards, he was relieved that accomplishing the project on time seemed very achievable.
Then I suggested that he add the defined tasks to his schedule so he could make sure he allocated the time needed. Because for many people there is a gap between knowing what to do, and taking the time to do it.
He responded, “I don’t use a calendar to schedule my day! It takes too much time. I need to be flexible to work on whatever is most important at the moment.” It became evident why this important project with a fixed deadline caused my friend anxiety.
Last week, I was ill. I had caught a summer cold that took me out of commission for a couple of days. I needed to revise my work calendar. But because I had a plan, I knew what actions could be delayed and what needed to be done as scheduled. When a deadline can’t be moved, I like the necessary actions to be in my schedule.
I find it interesting that some people view a schedule as being too restrictive, and other people view a schedule as necessary to enable flexibility. The schedule is not the difference, it is how we use it.
Isn’t this true of all tools? A tool is only as good as our ability to use it!
When we have the courage to take a step beyond our comfort zone, we have the opportunity to see what lies beyond. It may be scary. It may be uncomfortable. It may be difficult. But it is the only way to see the potential of what might be.
Our lives will grow or stagnant in proportion to the amount of courage we display. By being willing to take risks, face our fears, explore our limits, and accept failure as a challenge, not a roadblock, we will go farther than those that predictably follow the safe path.
This world for us is limitless, but we are bound by our actions. You can find new frontiers by exploring random links on Wikipedia, learning about another generation, researching a new interest, taking a deeper dive into your career, or just dreaming. The more we learn the greater the opportunity we create to use the knowledge in actions that take us beyond our normal daily boundaries.
Our dreams reflect the success we desire. The moment we resolve to take hold of a dream and make it a goal, we bring clarity to that dream. If you have the courage to see your dream, then have the courage to step towards achievement. What new idea do you see today?