Welcome back! Here’s Part 4 in our FinerMinds 19-part series on Becoming Just Awesome. Today, we’re going back to basics. How many of you are familiar with the phrase, “you only get out what you put in”? Everyone, I imagine. We hear it so often we barely raise an eyebrow when someone rolls it out.
Let’s dust off this concept, and I’ll see if I can breathe some life into it for you. The other half of today’s post is about not being afraid to put in some elbow grease. To grow, we must be willing to do what’s hard, a downright novel idea in our current ‘ease and convenience’ world.
Here’s a question for those of you who own a business with a partner: How would you feel if your business partner was NOT giving 100% to the business? Annoyed? Let down? Angry? These would be pretty standard reactions, especially if there was no apparent reason for the downturn in your partner’s commitment. The next question: Would YOU then feel like giving 100%? Probably not, especially in the long run.
This may seem strange, but the ‘universe’ works in much the same way. You need to think about the universe as your partner. If the idea of the ‘universe’ doesn’t work for you, substitute something else: life force, God, spiritual energy. Whatever makes sense for you. It’s the partner concept that’s important.
Imagine you’re only investing 50-60% of your energy into your life – your relationships, your work, your activities. As you putter along at half-potential, I’d hazard you wouldn’t be experiencing the sensation of the universe unfolding all around you – increased energy, mind-blowing experiences, extraordinary success.
It’s when you decide to truly go for it, give 100%, that incredible things start to happen. It’s as though the universe has ‘got your back’. You give 100%; the universe gives 100%. Even if you can isolate each positive incident and say, “well, this great thing happened because I did this and that,” it can still feel as though the universe is responding to your energy in kind, and this is an incredibly powerful sensation.
Giving 100% is massively rewarding, but so few people really go for it.
I’ll share an example with you, and I’d like your feedback on this case.
My husband and I were recently involved in a group exercise. In this exercise, about 50 of us were tasked with getting a number of heavy items to a certain point and then back to the start. We had to make it to the middle point in a certain amount of time, and we would each get points for doing this. Then you had to make it back to the starting area within the allotted time (with the heavy items). If anyone in the group did not make it back to the starting area in the amount of time allotted, then the whole group would lose.
We observed an interesting phenomenon. Less than half the team made it to the mid-point in time to get the points. Many on our team were less than 400 feet from the mid-point, but still did not make it (and we had all been walking/jogging for approximately two hours to get there). But then, on the way back, our whole team made it back to the start with 30 minutes to spare.
We hypothesized that people are more motivated by not wanting to be labeled a ‘loser’ (by virtue of causing the team to lose) than by really going for it and trying to get the points.
Perhaps this example can be applied to life. So many people live their lives trying to make sure they’re not in the bottom half, rather than aiming for the top and their goals (as defined by them). Constantly keeping watch to make sure you’re not in the bottom half just sucks your energy away. It’s actually a fear-based existence. It’s far more positive and a better investment of your time and energy to keep focused on your goals and where you want to go.
After the exercise, one woman went up to the front to share her experiences about it. She was an elderly woman, on the heavier side, with multiple health issues. Not an athletic type at all. Her husband even told her not to do the exercise. He thought she wouldn’t make it, given her age and health status.
He could not have been more wrong. She made it to the mid-way point in time, leaving people half her age in her wake.
It was all in her mind, she said. At the beginning of the exercise, she simply declared to herself that she was going to make it and that nothing was going to stop her. And it didn’t. The experience was incredibly emotional for her. She shared that she now felt powerful and that the universe had opened up for her that day. I was sitting next to her later on, and she showed me her toenail, which was about to fall off because of all the trekking. I’ve never seen someone so proud of a toe injury.
A few final words on the topic of hard work. Giving 100% and Being Willing To Do What’s Hard go hand-in-hand. Most people cruise along at 60% of their capacity and give up or change course when the going gets tough. Just look around you. There are examples of this everywhere. They’re busy strategizing on how they can get away with less.
Reaching your goals will not always be easy. Yes, sometimes you’ll go through periods where it seems effortless, but there will be difficult times too. Times when you want to give up. Times when you won’t feel like working hard. But if you persevere, you will be rewarded.
Looking back, most successful people report they learned more and became better individuals BECAUSE of the difficult periods and the hard work they put in. Successful people relish challenges and savor the triumph of coming through them. For them, a challenge is a problem to be solved.
This week’s exercise is straightforward, but not the easiest of tasks. I want you to give 100% for 3 days. I could say go and give 100% every day for the rest of your lives, but this isn’t necessarily going to work. You first have to set a realistic goal. You need to try it out and reflect on the experience. Perhaps it’s not for you and that’s OK. But take small steps. Also remember that 100% will be different for each person. It’s very personal. You will know when you’re giving 100% of yourself.
During the 3 days, I want you to:
Be aware of what is hard for you. This probably sounds a bit ridiculous. You might be thinking, “of course I know what’s hard for me.” In reality, though, you’ve probably been avoiding many of the things you find difficult, and you don’t even know it. Or you’ve been telling yourself it’s no big deal that you don’t embrace these challenges. Again, what is hard is different for everyone. Maybe public speaking is difficult for you. Perhaps having a heart-to-heart conversation with your partner makes your palms sweat. Are you afraid of the gym? Maybe getting out of bed in the morning is the most arduous part of your day. The point is to be aware of what you find to be particularly hard.
Celebrate, Practice, Support. Over the 3 days, because you’ll be giving 100%, you’ll be tackling some of these hard items. First, pat yourself on the back for doing this. It’s not easy. You need to celebrate this ‘passive to active’ shift. The next point is zeroing in on what you find hard. This allows you to strategize on how to overcome these issues. You need a plan, and chances are this plan will include learning, practice and support. Seek out more knowledge and find opportunities to practice what is hard for you, and make sure to surround yourself with a network of individuals to support you.
I’d like to hear from all of you out there who have made the transition from mediocre output to consistently giving 100%. What does it feel like and how do you sustain this practice?