My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service I offer to God for your faith. Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you
─Paul the Apostle
Playing Full out.
Strip yourself off any religious or spiritual bias and let us examine just for a second this stellar visionary called Paul the Apostle. History will give credence to the fact that the man lived and the man made ripples in the known world of his time. His secret? Going full out, leaving nothing to chance. Now pause just for a minute and reflect. You have been given life, gifts, talents and opportunities. The question is: Have you gone full out with them? Have you endured until your full potential is deployed? Do not even think for a minute that I am condescending…because these questions are also gripping my heart violently. I want to be known a man who went full out and played with everything I was given. That calls for personal commitment.
Paul said that that is what caused him to be happy. Transport yourself to your deathbed, at a good ripe old age. Will you be happy with what you did and how you turned out in life? Think about that for a minute while we yet have time. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you measure your effort in maximizing your potential to date? The thing about personal commitment is that with it, you can accomplish so much in one year than what you did in a decade.
What’s Our Greatest Quest in Life?
Tony Robbins says that contrary to popular belief, people’s greatest need is not happiness but fulfillment . This fulfillment comes only when we keep growing. He says that if we set our target to have something or get something, and think that that will make us fulfilled, we will be disappointed. I tend to agree. Once we attain the object of our desire, we find that it’s only a mirage in terms of happiness. There still is something that we want that would make us happy. Happiness therefore is the satisfaction that comes from personal commitment to be better and become glorious.
However, the paradox here is that growth is never a comfortable thing. I am not talking about growing as a child into an adult…that process is kind of automated. However I am talking about growing from a good person to a better person to a glorious one. That process involves intentionality, focus, grinding, disappointments, overcoming, tears, sweat and blood. It all smells of personal commitment where nobody is policing you are following you up other than your own self and your own resolve.
Embracing Discomfort of Personal Commitment
Growth inherently comes with aspects of discomfort such as struggle, failure, not knowing what the future holds, unfair competition, unresolved problems and so on. Is it any wonder that the man who is considered the mordern genius said the following words?
“The reason why I succeed in life is that I dare stay with problems longer than other people”.
It is never fun staying in the heat of the ‘fire’. We always want out immediately. If you think I am wrong, try to do some press ups after years of not doing that. You notice that immediately you feel the opposition and the impossibility, you want to stop right then and there. In fact it feels like you are imposing self torture on your own body! And yet it is those press ups that you need to exercise your body and provide you with fitness and vitality.
This is where the rubber meets the road. True motivation does not need an outside force. You do not need a motivating speaker to tell you to go out again after failing at first attempt. Probably, his motivation would have worn out by now. What you need is a heart-full resolve to grow. Because if you know that those two press ups you made today will count for something tomorrow, you will not be disappointed by your seemingly measly effort today. I have seen people in cars laughing at others on the road seriously struggling to job. They are judging you by that snapshot of a moment. They have no idea what you have committed your life to. They do not know what is at stake for you. That they can laugh at you is OK. That you can stop and be affected by their laughter is now what the tragedy becomes.
The Coziness of Comfort
Effort is what counts and without it, no professional ever existed. No one was born a professional. We were all born armatures. We all had to learn to talk, walk, and discern danger. Life was designed in such a way that growth is a constant, and we only get to the next level of progression by being faithful at this level.
So the reason why many people drop their purpose or abort it is because it’s nurturing is filled with lots of incessant discomfort. On the other hand, we want to live lives full of comfort. That is what we gravitate towards. It explains why someone would rather watch a movie than meditate. Someone would rather scroll on their phone through social media notifications than read an e-book on the same phone. Growth calls for an exercise of the mind. It calls for you to stretch yourself. It inherently means that you will have to be disciplined, a term that people think is reserved for primary school teachers.
Importance of Discomfort and Effort
What we need to do though is to come to that level where we embrace discomfort so much so that it becomes part and parcel of our system. I love using physical exercise as an example. When you get started, it is the most cumbersome and discomfiting thing ever. Yet the secret is to dare to embrace that discomfort. In business, it would be sitting down with a blank sheet of paper trying to mind map the metrics an numbers of the business. It would be to force yourself not to get up until you have covered that blank sheet of paper with something valuable.
I dare say that the level of our progress in life will be measured by our affinity and consistency in seeking and staying in discomfiting moments in our lives. Now, the secret is to deliberately and intentionally allow yourself to be stretched. You think you can write 4 articles a month (one article every week)? You will soon realize that with this concept you will be able to do 8 articles a month. Once that frontier is conquered, you then realize that you could actually do 16 articles a month, writing every other day. The cynic in you might be saying, “but what on earth am I going to be writing about?” Well, what do you think the stretching is for? Of what purpose is it to only do 4 a month yet you have potential to churn out 30 articles a month?
I hope you get my point. We cannot be comfortable in being comfortable. If it does not bother me that I am not bothered that I am not stretched, that is when I die. That is when they should just bury me. That is when I am existing and just coasting through live on autopilot. However, it is happy day when I stop to celebrate my victory for this day, this project, this endeavor and immediately after draw another line in the sand pushing myself once again.
Now, do not get me wrong. People might be thinking that this kind of life is devoid of fun, relaxation, and recuperation, but you would be wrong. The fun and the relaxation is part and parcel of it all. So instead of getting used to eating chicken all the time, how about stretching myself in creating adventure and diverse experiences in terms of fun? How about daring myself to go climb Mount Rwenzori, or Kenya or Kilimanjaro? How about stretching myself to go on a cruise ship from South Africa to Mombasa?
We have to come to that level where we are committed to milking out all the potential that God Almighty has placed in us. We have to come to that level that I call “Holy Discontentment”, in which you are not OK with schooling, job-hunting, and paying bills then disciple your children after that sorry pattern. We have to come to that level where we ask ourselves? Is that the best I could have given? Is that the very best of my ability? Can I be proud of what I did? That should be our ‘screen saver’, our daily challenge. If so, your life will never be the same again. If you challenge yourself to the core like this, you will almost always find yourself to be a committed person. And you know what I found out? Such people are the happiest you ever saw…and I am not talking about happiness induced by amassing things, but happiness induced by progress, growth and personal greatness. Let’s do this!