The people you surround yourself with play a big part in your life’s progression. There are those that can challenge you and push you to be your best and then there are those that can leave you depleted because they add no value to you. At one point in my life, when I was feeling really drained and empty, I realized that everyone closest to me was someone who was pulling from me in one way or another but I wasn’t experiencing the mutual benefit of the relationships. I got to the point where I felt depleted without much to offer myself let alone anyone else. Once I fully realized the situation, I committed going forward to making sure that I had people in my life that I could walk side-by-side with and not constantly have to carry. Shortly after that “aha moment,” I met my best friend of now 20+ years and have enjoyed many mutually beneficial relationships as well.
I recently came to another realization, however. Though I’ve done right by finding friends with whom I am more equally matched, I haven’t had enough people who are farther ahead in their lives to push and really challenge me in the ways that I’ve needed to get to where I want to go. I honestly didn’t feel the need for guidance from multiple sources to determine the steps I took for my life. Though I stand by that belief, I have come to the conclusion that I’ve put up TOO many “protective” walls around myself and have cut myself off from the potential of people that could have pushed me much farther than I have been able to get on my own. I have always been aware, of course, of how “discriminating” I am about who I listen to but I have really realized as of late the value of others in life to help promote growth in areas where it is needed. I have also realized the reasons that I have kept myself as guarded as I’ve been. First, and this is a big confession, I don’t like being told what to do. I have a bit of a stubborn streak in me that stands up a little too tall against authority sometimes. I’ve never even wanted to sign up with a personal trainer because I don’t want him or her telling me what to do! Now that I’ve gotten that out, here’s my amateur psychology that explains my issues. 😊
I’m sure the root causes for anyone’s resistance to authority is long. One’s history, personality and many other factors certainly would come into play. Personally speaking, fear has been a big issue. I haven’t always known that but I certainly know it now! I’ve been paralyzed to an extent by the fear of not being good enough, of not being able to measure up, of failing — the list goes on. Connecting myself to someone who seems to have all of their stuff together could reveal how much of my stuff that I DON’T have together. I’ve always wanted to be perceived as smart and independent and I have the tendency to try and just figure things out on my own. Because what would happen if the awesome, successful, composed women that I admired from afar got to know me and I didn’t measure up to everything that I saw in them? The very thought has been more than I’ve ever wanted to consider but that’s just pride getting in the way. As I’ve begun the real work of preparing for the paths that I plan to pursue, however, and have found women whose success I would like to emanate, I’ve read about almost all of them that, not only did they build extremely successful and impactful businesses with nothing but determination and a dream, but they still operate, even from their places of success, with fear right along for the ride! THEY deal with insecurities. THEY feel inadequate and THEY question at times whether they are worthy of all that they are trying to accomplish. WHO KNEW??? They stood up to those insecurities, however, found others that they could learn from and have gone on to accomplish great things. We have to tackle our dreams and pursue our pursue in the face of fear, not letting it overtake us. There are those who would gladly help, mentor and teach us if we open up and let them.
Another reason I’ve built walls around myself is the fear of being challenged. I like to do what I want to do when I feel like doing it. I don’t often like being pushed beyond what’s comfortable to me and I don’t fancy the idea of putting the control in anyone else’s hands to do that. I’ve resisted personal fitness trainers for just that reason! For as long as I can remember when it’s come to various aspects of my life, I’VE wanted to be in control of what happens to or with me and how. My stubbornness, however, has done just the opposite of what I would want for myself: it’s kept me comfortable. Staying in a comfortable place doesn’t bring new opportunities, open doors or knock down walls. You can’t be comfortable and develop or grow at the same time. It just doesn’t work that way. There’s an apparent safety in comfort but being safe doesn’t result in greatness and mediocrity (for me) is just not an option!
Iron Sharpens Iron
Have you ever tried to slice a tomato with a dull knife? Doesn’t work too well, right? Effort is required to cut through the skin of the tomato without putting too much pressure on it and causing a mess. A sharp knife, however, cuts right through the vegetable with little effort at all and is extremely effective at accomplishing the desired result. A dull blade needs sharpening to increase its effectiveness. There are various ways to sharpen a metal blade but they all require some degree of friction to make it happen. Proverbs 27:17 in the Bible says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We need people to help us to reach our best selves! The right people can see where we need to improve and can help bring out the best in us. Using their own victories, experiences and accomplishments, they can motivate us beyond what we think is possible… if we allow them the space to. What I’ve had to learn is not to shy away from the effort that it’s going to require for me to accomplish all that I feel is in me to do but instead to embrace the weight of it knowing that it’s SO much bigger than any fear I might experience along the way. That ultimately means putting myself out there, asking questions and learning from those who have already overcome their own internal obstacles and insecurities to get to where they are. Having someone push or challenge you may be uncomfortable and cause some friction, but that friction is what will smooth out the rough places in you that will allow you to move into the great future that could be waiting for you. So what are you trying to accomplish? What new do you want for your life? Seek out a mentor. Find a business coach. Connect with someone on your job that may be doing the work that you aspire to do and find out what it will take. Whatever it may be, face your fears, embrace the challenge and find the right guides to help you on your path to that next great thing or place or future that awaits you. It will be so worth it.