Why do we alienate what we have, while coveting what we don’t? We’re quick to ignore what is in our search for what else in life — always longing for the shiny balls of strengths that everyone else seem to possess, while totally ignorant of our own. You have strengths that you do not fully utilize. Why? Because your strengths aren’t painful. When it doesn’t cause discomfort — when something comes so effortlessly and naturally — it often gets taken for granted.
It may take some people months to read a book, but you complete it in a few hours. While some unsuccessfully try to cram into memory a blur of stats, facts, reviews, rebuttals and closes, you’re one and done, thanks to your photographic memory. Where some find meeting new people extremely awkward, you have the uncanny ability to get a complete stranger to open up and share their whole life story with you in minutes. You have dozens of strengths — strengths that others could only wish for — yet, years later, you still find yourself standing in the familiar rut of “average at best,” on the way to your grave of untapped potential. Like a dog faithful to its abusive master, your strengths are present, but underserved.
In the absence of tension, strengths morph into weaknesses. You can’t walk between skyscrapers on a loose tightrope, you won’t win the Tour de France with slack in your chain, you’ll never be able to play like Hendrix with loose guitar strings, and you’ll never realize your full potential without the tension. Your greatest opportunity for growth comes from the tension between complacency and discontent.
Many of your greatest strengths were unearthed during your weakest moments in life — all thanks to tension. When there were moments that you were physically, mentally, spiritually or financially at your rope’s end; it was tension that tied the knot enabling you to hold on. You weren’t focused on the realities of what couldn’t be done — you were too focused on the possibilities of what had to be done. And, like the tenacious jaws of a rabid dog, you refused to let go. You narrowed your focus, upped your intensity, and stretched your resolve, until tension finally broke the obstacle standing in your way. And that was during your weakest, lowest moments in life. Just think if you treated your strengths much the same way?
Instead of using your strengths as a crutch, limping into the kingdom of “Just Enough,” what if you used it instead to vault into newer, higher realms of possibilities? If you did it when you didn’t think you had it in you, then why, when you know you do have it in you, don’t you use it to do more?
In the sport of pole-vaulting, the faster you run, the higher you’ll go. Energy is transferred from the runner’s feet to the pole, vaulting him or her over the bar. Your energy is found in your strengths; the problem is you’re not running fast enough. It’s time to stop strolling and start running. Sure, adding tension causes discomfort, soreness and fatigue, but that’s where the growth is found and that’s precisely the point when most people let up — when it begins to hurt. We may not always like the effort, but we always enjoy the results. Keep your lines of success tight by dripping tension as needed.
If you plan on going higher, you’re going to have to run faster. Set the bar and lace up.
I’ll see you on the blacktop.