Dr. Paul Stoltz in his book “Adversity Quotient” (Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) refers to three types of people. The first group are the “Quitters”. They live compromised lives. They choose to opt out, cop out, drop out and back out of life. They contribute minimally to life because they do not believe enough in themselves and therefore have very little to give. They ab andon dreams and choose what they perceive as a gentler, easier route in life. They live lives of regret and as a result are often bitter, angry, depressed and emotionally numb, often striking out at those around them, resentful of those who grow.
The second group of people are the “Campers”. They also live compromised lives; the degree is just different. These are people who might have achieved a certain amount, or even a phenomenal amount with their lives. Weary and tired they decide it is time to put up their feet and stop the journey of life. They often have good jobs with good pay and benefits, but they have decided to sacrifice what could be, in order to hold onto the illusion of what is. Their limited growth may be seen by some as “success”. This is a common misconception among people who view success as a destination and not a journey.
The third group of people are the “Climbers”. They live their lives to the full and feel a deep sense of purpose and passion for their lives. These are people committed to lifelong growth and development. Regardless of the challenges that they face they continue to press on. They are possibility thinkers, never allowing background, race, age, physical or mental disabilities or any other obstacles to prevent them from growing and developing.
Mankind has an innate need to grow. It is this journey of growth that allows you to discover the great potential with which you have been blessed. Not only do you overcome the fears in your life, but you begin to learn more about yourself. This in turn gives you greater ability to deal with your path in life more confidently.
As we move into this Century, which has been dubbed as the “age of information” it will become more important for people to provide value to the market place. A law of economics, that you will not learn at university is, “You get paid for bringing value to the market place.”
Now it is important for us to underst and that it takes time to become valuable and we are not going to be remunerated for the time, but the value. Therefore we need to spend our time becoming valuable.
A large insurance company for which a friend of mine works went through a re-engineering process. They retrenched thous ands of people and restructured the organisation. My friend was appointed head of I.T. He had been with the company for close on five years and now had a number of people who had been there for twenty odd years reporting to him.
These people were not very happy with the fact that this young “Wipper Snapper” was now heading I.T. My friend had, during the five years he was with the company, taken it upon himself to attend as many courses as he could, at his own cost and in his own time, in order to enhance his skills and increase his knowledge and value.
The other members of the I.T. department could also have taken these opportunities, but felt comfortable with the knowledge that they had gained over the past twenty odd years. The problem was that they had one-year experience, twenty odd times over, whereas my friend had five years of varied, updated and dedicated experience. He was of greater value. He had invested in himself by giving his time and his money to become more valuable. Because of his value he also receives a greater remuneration.
We often see Peak Performers receiving their accolades and we wish we could be like them. We are not often aware of the days, months and years they put into practising – Sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances, away from family and friends. Look, for example, at the great golfers, tennis players, etc who will spend days at practising their game. Sometimes in the cold and wet and at other times in the blistering heat.
A lady who was a member of the audience at a piano recital that Von Klynburn gave approached him and said, “Mr Von Klynburn, I would give my life to be able to play the piano like you.” To which Mr Von Klynburn responded, “Madam I have!”
The quickest fix in life is for us to realise that there is no quick fix. This is a principle and we compromise principles at great cost to ourselves.
Peak Performers know that the most uncomfortable place in which to be is the “comfort zone”. I had the privilege of interviewing Anthony Steward who in 1992 sailed around the world in a 5.8-meter open boat. During the course of his journey he was shipwrecked on an uninhabited isl and off the Seychelles, for nine days, before being found by local fishermen and rescued.
I asked Anthony to tell me when he was the most afraid and this was his answer, “When I was on the isl and, because I was going nowhere”.
Comfort zones do not allow you to go anywhere. Instead they cause you to experience frustration, resentment, fear, anxiety, etc. The focus becomes inward and you begin to be the victim.
Climbers, on the other h and, are continuously taking calculated risks that allow them to keep climbing. It is along the path of life that they experience the beauty, thrill, joy and excitement that life has to offer.
In our country of South Africa the nature conservationists have developed some of the most beautiful hiking trails which vary from one-day to two-week trails and they have erected over-night huts on most of them.
Now suppose you were to plan a six-day hike. You drove to the starting point, parked your car, walked through to the first over-night hut and spent the six days in the hut.
I am sure you are wondering about the logic of such a venture. What a waste of time, you might be thinking. “Who on earth would spend six-days in a hut when they could experience so much along the trail?” Yet it is amazing how many people spend their lives in the “hut”.
It is only when you venture out of the hut and begin to walk the path of life that you will ever see the mountains, lakes, water falls, rivers, trees, flowers, insects, animals and yes, the other paths (opportunities) that you find as you walk along the path. This can not be experienced sitting in the hut. There are some valleys and mountains that you may have to negotiate, but isn’t that where the best growth takes place?
As you walk this trail you will eventually come to the next hut. You may choose, if you wish, to spend the remaining days in this hut, but climbers know that life is a journey and not a destination.
As you grow, the focus is out of yourself. You do not have time to feel like a victim. You are experiencing the thrill of life, the pure joy that is reserved for those who climb. You are able to add value and contribute, because your life experience is developing a person of immense value. Belief, faith and confidence start to replace insecurity and fear. This in turn provides you with the opportunity to embark on greater hikes. Life is never boring or dull, but is full of opportunity and growth.
The only difference between the Peak Performers and the average performers is in what they do. Decide that you will do everything that you can to become valuable. Value is earned, it is not bought. Become valuable. Become a growing, contributing human being. That is the real joy of life – to give of yourself.