Episode 123: Living on the Edge

One of the things you should never do to someone like you is tell you you’ll never be able to do something. Hey, this week, I want to talk with you just for a few minutes about living life on the edge. Now I know what you’re thinking. We just went through all this disruption. Everybody’s stressed out from all the change, working from home, and how are we going to be as productive? Am I going to continue my same career? I get it. There’s a lot of things out there that are taking your time and emotional energy. But if you will just take to heart the simple lessons I’m going to share today, you’ll no longer be living on that edge, but on a much higher plane. Hey, good morning. This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life By Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation. We’re doing nothing today but helping you become that bigger, better, and bolder you that is inside of you today.

I got to tell you how this episode came about. So many times I look back in my journals from previous years. I’ve got them from since I was right out of undergrad school at age 22 – I’m 56, so you know I’ve got several volumes – and I look back and each one of the entries I have in my journal has a date. It has the time that I entered it or wrote it. It has also the location I was, at home or at the mall or on a fishing trip, wherever I was… At the golf course, wherever I had written this notation is there on the page. And I got to looking at some of the journal entries I had entered when I was in my career early in my late twenties. I had been working with an international firm and there was one particular partner that always had this approach to leadership, but I never quite understood. A great guy, very talented man, but instead of using positive reinforcement, he always picked the one thing that you didn’t maybe do as well as you should have, or you could have gone a step further, for example. So it’s kind of like the glass was always half empty. You know those kinds of people, right? Well, I want to visit with you for just a few moments to explain what I did from that particular viewpoint. I made some notations in my journal that I didn’t quite understand how Mr. So-and-so functioned. He always had a scowl on his face. He walked down the hall with his head down, and I mean, he had brisk pace as he came running down the hall, what seemed like running, but really was walking. And he always had this appearance that he was aggravated. You know these people? So I basically said to myself in that journal entry, I’m going to find what makes Mr. So-and-so tick. And I’m going to learn a better means of communicating with him, not just when he assigns me a project, but during the project and at the delivery of the final project. So I said to myself, to be better, I must become better in his eyes as well as my own. So remember, our role is not to benefit only those you work with or work for, but rather to benefit you internally so that you can realize your potential.

And so the title of this week’s episode may seem a little misunderstanding, misleading, living on the edge. Now I’m not referring to you to living in the extremes of life, but rather living beyond your current comfortable boundaries. Growth is the result of challenging ourselves. To be more than we currently are in life. Many of the best growth opportunities I have captured in my life were those that required more of me than I had previously been giving to my career, my philanthropy, my marriage, my relationships, every aspect of life. And I gotta be honest with you, I thought I was giving it all, but I wasn’t. There’s still more water in the well, as my dad would say. So you’ve heard me mention many quotes by Jim Rohn in the past of this episode. Today, I’m going to add one more to that list. This one happens to be my favorite all time Jim Rohn quote. As a matter of fact, I will tell you it has become a mantra of mine that I repeat daily over the last 15 years of my life. It is a philosophy that I have adopted and has earned me wonderful growth within myself. The quote is, “For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.” That to me makes a lot of sense.

So what I sought out, too, is if I expect to see change in my performance, I must change my inputs. I must change my thinking about life. Too many people say, “Well, I don’t want to write a journal because I just don’t have the time. I don’t want to take the resources. I just don’t see that as being something that will help me.” Well, the issue I’m saying to you, and I’m not trying to talk everyone into writing in a journal. I’m trying to help you though find what’s within you is the capabilities you’ve yet to utilize. And through my journaling, I have learned more about Jimmy than I ever thought possible. You see, when you’re starting to express those thoughts on paper… You know, I get that Montblanc pen. I get that nice leather bound journal. And I am just writing. Well, things flow on to that page that I did not know I possessed in thought. For some reason, your brain gets to this point that says, we need to get this out on paper so that you can refer to it, act on it, and then hold yourself accountable for the activity. This is why it’s important for you to change. So if you want things to change for you, you have to change. That just made a lot of sense to me.

So what are you enjoying about life? That if you had a greater quantity or a higher quality of this item, feeling, whatever it is, would help you live a more fulfilling life or give you purpose to live life on a higher plane? Why don’t you possess this item, feeling, or whatever it may be? For example, if you are feeling that your current relationships are not helping you grow as a person, why don’t you find mentors or others that will help you? What is stopping you from making these relationship connections? I believe I know the answer. The answer is simply this: fear and complacency. We gain comfort in our lives and it begins to wear down our motivation, our drive to grow and succeed. You know, we reach a certain level of success and think, “boy, looking back, I’ve come a long ways,” but when you turn around again and you look forward and you see another mountain top that’s higher than the one you’ve just climbed, you see again, greater opportunities, greater rewards. A quote by Steve Jobs, and I’m going to warn you, this episode has several Steve Jobs quotes because I just think the guy had a great elegant way of speaking these things. The quote is something that I keep in my mind. “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you’re about to do today?” Now, to me, that is powerful with a capital P. You see, too often, we feel like activity means accomplishment. You know, we can run around being busy. We can have 18 things on a to-do list and we can sit here and make ourselves look like we are productive. Activity does not equate productivity or advancement of your goal. There are many friends of mine that worked 60 and 70 hours per week, and I see no change in their lifestyle, their wealth, or their personal growth. I asked one the other day, I said, “Tell me, John, why is it you work 60 to 70 hours per week?” He said, basically, “I am trying to get ahead. And this is one thing I can do to show my boss,” that’s his quote, not mine, “show my boss that I am working hard.” I said, “Let me ask you a question, John. What measuring stick does your boss use to show that you’re working hard? Is it purely, you’ve put in more hours, thereby costing him more salary?”

John looked at me with the biggest eyes like cups and saucers, right? He looks at me and he said, “Well, what do you mean?” I said, “Do you not believe that life is made up of value, not necessarily just hours?” He said, “Jimmy, you’re talking that crazy productivity stuff again. Just break it down to me and tell me what you’re saying.” And here’s all I mean, for you listening today, do what I asked John to do. Don’t look at being the busiest person in your office, your company, the place of employment, wherever it may be. Don’t look to be the busiest person there, look to be the most productive, because when we’re productive, we create value for that employer, that business, that company.

And so John decided to make a different approach. I asked him if he would take his activities, those 12, 18, he had in the day, and prioritize. If he could only do one thing today that gave him the most value for the company and made that his A1 task, his big three, that’s his number one of the big three, what would it be? Well, he gave me an answer. I don’t know how it relates to what he does, but he said that would be the big one. I said, “Then don’t answer email. Don’t read the newspaper. Don’t take a coffee break until you’ve spent 15 to 30 minutes, as soon as you’re ready to start your day, on that one big item.” He put this into play for a week. He came back to me and he said, “This may have changed the trajectory of my entire career, and my focus in life.” You see,, these simple changes, took him out of his comfort zone. He was complacent. He thought, if I just kept working, but you know, if you’re working in the wrong direction, you’re simply getting farther away from where you need to be instead of being productive and valued in what you do.

You know, I told people before that you didn’t stay in the fifth grade for more than one year, right? Well, maybe most of us didn’t but why do you think that’s the case? Why didn’t you do four years of the fifth grade and then go right from the fifth grade to, say, the ninth or 10th grade? Well, the reason why is because you were growing as a student and your teachers in the fifth grade knew that your capabilities and potential could only be reached if you were tested with more challenging schoolwork. Now, why don’t you think in the second grade they teach trigonometry to these students? Because they’re not ready for such a challenge. You see, growth is a sequential act. Now I’m going to tell you, I want to learn to play chess. I have played chess in my lifetime. I am no where near Tommy Fisher or Bobby Fisher, excuse me. I think his name’s Bobby, whoever that chest great was. I’m nowhere near that person. However, I enjoy the strategy. I enjoy the entire process of playing chess, but I’m no good at it. But I am going to tell you, I am better at it today than I was when I first started only because I had applied myself and played people that were much better at chess than me. And so, you must find whatever is that most valuable input, that most valuable, productive task that you can complete and move forward only on that to help get your growth started. You know, one of the best methods of growing is to attempt to do something you never done before and continue to attempt it until you succeed. Now, this only works in areas of life that are not maybe jumping the grand canyon on a motorcycle.

I’ll never forget when I was a kid, Evel Knievel had a special rocket build, just so he can jump what is called the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. This is a distance that no one had ever even attempted, much less completed, in the past. He was the world’s stage watching as the rocket was sitting on the platform to be launched. Evel climbs inside the rocket, the TV stations have all honed in on his image, the look in his face of determination. And finally, it’s go time. As the rocket takes off down that lengthy ramp, climbing faster and faster, only to leave the end of the ramp and the chute comes out. Of course, that shoot slows down the progress of the rocket. They find Evel Knievel safely at the bottom of Snake River Canyon, sitting on some dry piece of land. Now, all of that hype to say he did something that I noted a lot of guts, but he didn’t complete that jump, nor did he come back to complete that jump. I’m not talking about growing by doing something like that. I am saying, though, take up something such as journaling, take up something such as attempting to do more pushups than you did yesterday. Attempt to grow in some manner that you’re not comfortable at this time. For example, if you aren’t good at public speaking, volunteer to speak in front of some small groups, and then keep adding people until you perform whatever speech you’re using in front of millions of people. Now that to me is growth.

“Life is about creating and living experiences that are worth sharing,” according to Steve Jobs. If you wish to become a more prolific thinker and provide creativity to your work, you must separate yourself from the comfortable role you currently find yourself. Ask for an assignment from your employer that will truly task your levels of talent and find a way to successfully complete the test. Give it 100% of your effort. Do the research, do the study, inquire of those that may have completed similar roles. There is a way to find growth within yourself if you merely place yourself in an uncomfortable, living on the edge status of life. When you start growing and transforming into the potential that lies within you, others will attempt to bring you back down to their level of comfort. They will tell you that you can’t do it, that have attempted other changes in life before and failed, and you know what? They would be right. But today’s a new day. You are a different person. You have greater experience, greater knowledge. You are not the person that you were yesterday, but you are now an individual endowed with greatness and designed for excellence. Don’t allow mediocrity to rule your life. Don’t listen to the naysayers of the world.

A quote I know you’ll find helpful is another Steve Jobs quote. It’s this one: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change names. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.” Man, that is powerful.

The challenge for this week, I might as well end this episode with another Steve Jobs quote, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” So this week, look deep inside yourself and find that one goal you’ve always wished to reach, the one you thought was always outside your length of arm’s grasp. Take the first steps to reaching the goal, document your thoughts and success in our new Live a Life By Design Facebook Community. If you haven’t joined, please do so. You’ll find outstanding help with tools, strategies, tactics, things in life that may help you gain that next level on the ladder, that next run that’s right there in front of you, if you only had just one answer, one idea, one strategy to get there. So join our Live a Life By Design Facebook Community, inspire others and find the energy it creates to help you live your life by your design.

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