“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? If you can’t keep your wits during times of calm, what’s going to happen when trouble breaks loose?”—Jeremiah 12:5, The Message
Developing the mental toughness for top performance is not a modern day issue. These verses from the ancient book of the Bible get to the heart of it: if you want to run in the big race of real winners, it’s going to take more than the mediocre performance that passes for success on an average day.
America has become a nation of bored insomniacs who settle for mediocrity in many areas of their life, but as the Bible verse above reminds us, it’s a malaise that’s been around for centuries.
Mediocrity will not sustain us when the going gets tough (click to tweet). Average people move from one failure to another until they finally find success at something, and then they stop. They have no idea of whether they’ve reached top performance because they are in a footrace with others who think like they do.
Success is enough for the mediocre performer.
To run against horses, however, means not letting obstacles or barriers that are bigger than you trample your goals when times get tough. Running at top performance will give you the edge you will need to keep moving forward.
Here are 3 career boosting thoughts that will move you toward top performance:
Be Curious About What Life is Offering You
Curiosity is the foundation of life-long growth. If we remain curious, we remain teachable so that our minds and hearts grow larger with each passing day. We can retain our beginner’s mind by always looking forward and discovering new experiences and uncovering new information.
Success seduces us into becoming set in our ways. “It’s working,” we say to ourselves, so we settle into comfort zones that begin to look more and more like ruts as we age.
Curiosity is important for peak performance because it:
- Makes your mind active instead of passive
- Encourages you to be more observant of new ideas
- Opens up new worlds and possibilities
- Creates an adventurous response that leads you in a new direction
Fire Up the Courage to Look Obstacles in the Eye
It takes courage to make a change, step into the unknown, or confront an obstacle that looks to be bigger and stronger than you. But this is the question: Do you want to shuffle with the crowd, or run with the horses?
You work an 80-hour week, are in a rocky marriage, and have a dead end job—Wow, and you are worried that a change will wreck your life! Really?
Do not give up, stop pretending that average is OK, admit things are not perfect, and find the courage to make a change.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
—Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
Embracing Failure Is the Best Way to Learn. Really.
If peak performance requires you to look at success differently, it will also require you to look at failure differently.
You cannot avoid risk without avoiding life (click to tweet).
Hundreds of interviews have been conducted to determine the commonality between our greatest leaders. The conclusion of this research is that every successful person has endured failure. They had to overcome at least one major obstacle before they could experience success.
No one wants to talk about failure because as we fail, we puncture big wounds in our ego. It is precisely for this reason that we see important things about ourselves we couldn’t see before.
The key to top performance is separating failure from defeat (click to tweet). They are two different things. We can fail time and time again but this does not mean we are defeated. We recover from a failure and grow into a truer understanding of the calling of our heart. This shift in mindset does not see failure as the end, but only an opportunity to try it again—this time differently.
“When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.”
—Henry David Thoreau
Retreating from the rigors excellence is understandable. It is unlikely that Jeremiah was quick to respond. He weighed the options and counted the cost. The way he lived his life became the answer—he ran with the horses.
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