Whenever I used to see planes cutting through the open skies as a kid, I would often close my eyes, extend my arms and lose myself in my thoughts. I would think to myself that I not only wanted to fly planes when I got older, I wanted to be a plane. Fast-forward 29 years, I am an auditor so we all know how that dream turned out.
The sheer gust of wind that causes me to lose my balance from the engines of each plane is both thrilling and calming to me because it reminds me of why I decided to stand there in the first place.
Henry Ford once said, “when everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
I have spent the last several years working closely with and coaching millennials (ie - Generation Y). I have also spent a significant portion of my time recruiting and interviewing those that fall into the Generation Z cohort (ie - current university students). A common theme I am beginning to see amongst both millennials and Generation Z is that for the most part, both avoid challenges. Both avoid struggles. Both avoid resistance. Both avoid taking calculated risks. But why?
Why not challenge ourselves in our educational and/or professional careers? Why not undergo some form of internal struggle only to come out stronger and wiser? Why not take calculated risks to further progress ourselves in our lives?
Waking up every morning is a struggle for me (realistically and figuratively speaking). Realistically, because I love to sleep. Figuratively, because I love to challenge myself. Remember how I said that some bring upon challenges and struggles to themselves voluntarily? That is me.
My personal and professional life is built on three concepts: competition, time and failure. Every morning I voluntarily challenge myself to build upon and form a deeper appreciation of one of these three concepts.
- Competition - In order to defeat our competition, we must first recognize who it is. I have come to realize that our biggest competition is not the person beside us or behind us, but rather the person inside us. I try to defeat this competition every day.
- Time – We live our lives in a manner as if time is indefinite. Regardless of our religious, cultural or spiritual beliefs, time is finite for each and every one of us. I try to appreciate that fact and try to detach myself from the past and future and focus on living in the present. Focus on investing my time in those places and people that can provide the highest ROI to me.
- Failure – What you see in front of you today is someone standing tall and strong. What you don’t seen is how many times I have fallen to the ground only to pick myself back up to become taller and stronger. Failure humbles you and motivates you more than no form of success ever can.
I challenge you to challenge yourself every morning when you wake up. What will your next challenge be? Will you face it head on or will you avoid it? If someone ever tells you that something is impossible, just remember to pronounce that word as “I-M-possible.” I have learned that the best way to grow as a human is to come outside of my comfort zone and to challenge myself.
You and I may not be planes but there are moments in our lives where we are lined up on a runway faced with extreme headwind, which may sometimes feel unbearable. It is your decision to abort takeoff or to realize that you can only take off against the wind, not with it.