“Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s how you break the plateau and reach that next level.”
We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s idea that you can’t solve a problem at the same level at which it was created. His challenge was to rise up, to the next level, so as to see and deal with the problem from a higher perspective.
And yet many of us with dreams and goals ahead (a problem) can be deceived into believing that we can get to that next level easily and effortlessly, or by playing the way we have already been playing at this particular plateau.
Let’s face it: it’s damn inconvenient to take on growth and fulfillment as a lifetime pursuit!
I spent a 4 day weekend with a wise, high-performance leader 14 years my junior. I admired how he had taken on breaking through to the next level for himself as a pattern of life from the age of 19, and was apparently continuing to do so forever.
I noticed a bit of reticence at first to being open to someone who’s been on the planet less time than me telling me about how life really works. However, I quickly realized that voice was my own Back Forty Blinder, the old mindset that says “I should know all this by now.”
So, I shook it off in true Back Forty Fliers style and again affirmed that we all have our path and we all have the time and place in which we fulfill on what we came here to do…which is, according to our philosophy, always ahead of us, not behind.
I began thinking that, in my growing up and the messages I received from my own shaping cultural influences, there was this idea that you worked really hard until you “made it” to some level and then you enjoyed that “made-it-ness”, got comfortable, and at some point “retired”.
There are lots of folks who are proud to say “I retired at 30” or whatever young age because the idea of having “made it” earlier is seen as a badge of winning.
This is not knocking “made it”, as to get to those points, those individuals had to apply themselves and their wheelhouse of tools and intelligence in wonderful and admirable ways.
Yet, what about the next level after “making it”?
In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do”. This is not to knock what has already been accomplished, and yet what’s next?
And, if there hasn’t necessarily been the sense of full accomplishment in our life as lived thus far, this mantra gives us all hope.
What will be required by both parties – those who’ve already “made it” and those who believe they haven’t – is to take on the inconvenience of continual leveling up.
Those inspired to be Back Forty Fliers must adopt a willingness, outside of their amassed “wisdom” of who they are, what they’re capable of, what they can learn, the way the world works, etc., so as to be open, fresh and available to receive new input.
When it comes to midlifers fulfilling on goals and dreams – which may be on the chopping block at this point in life – it’s important to realize that the same sweat, learning processes and jittery uncertain of growth they experienced in younger years can still take them to their next level of fulfillment.
It’s simply a question of willingness to be inconvenienced by growth and fulfillment.
Here are a few tips from my own experience of leveling up.
Get outside the box of groupthink mindset you may have surrounded yourself with – same friends, same community, same church, same avenues of exposure – and make yourself available to new people, ideas, and input.
Kids leaving home for college or going out into the world have no choice but to do this, and the process of exposure begins to point them in directions of discovery about themselves, their passions, their interests, and their abilities.
At 40, 50, 60, 70 and beyond, we can learn more about ourselves and our passions, interests, and abilities if we gain more exposure – and let go of all the “wisdom” of the comfort zone we’ve become accustomed to.
When exposing yourself, be willing to really listen…like a 20-year-old, who is taking in all new information all the time.
The tendency of the “wise” midlifer is to evaluate and assess everything as to whether they agree with it or not, whether they’re capable of it or not, whether it fits their belief system (BS) or not. Therefore, the groupthink mindset stays in place.
Often, there’s a resistance to engage and consider incorporating new ideas because the inner voice says “Well, if this is right, then I’ve been off my whole life!”…and the ego doesn’t want to consider that possibility. So, rather than try and engage in something new, it’s far easier to write off the new input as crazy or ludicrous. Admitting that one doesn’t know it all (yet) can be a big hurdle.
To listen – as opposed to hear – means to truly consider without the slice-and-dice mechanism of cynicism/resignation disguised as discernment shredding every piece of evidence that something beyond who you are now is possible.
Turn off the garbage disposal and listen.
Try some of those new ideas, belief systems and practices on.
You have survived very well to this point. Whatever experiments you choose to engage in won’t kill you for sure. You’re tried and true “knowing” of how things are might still prevail, even if you experiment. Just watch that you don’t experiment with the objective being to prove yourself right. You’ll definitely end up “right”.
Life is too short for knowing too early exactly who we are and what we’re capable of. And, if there’s something beyond what has come before for you to be and do, then inconveniencing yourself to play around with new toys might be just the shift required to take you to your next level to fulfilling on that.
You have yet to do what you came here to do.
“At the moment when you feel you have reached the point of absolute exhaustion, inspire yourself to take one last step, and that is when you have successfully arrived to the next level.”
-Master Jin Kwon