Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Do you have lofty ideas and goals, but they never seem to amount to anything more than dreams? We’ve all felt these frustrations from time to time. So how do you turn all of that around? How can you turn those frustrations into achievement?
Here are five simple ideas.
1. Shatter the Glass Ceiling
The idea of a “glass ceiling” was first introduced to describe “the existence of invisible, artificial barriers blocking women and minorities from advancing up the corporate ladder to management and executive level positions.”  In a more generic sense, it can refer to any invisible, artificial barrier that stands between you and whatever goals you want to accomplish.
Micah Fletcher is on my short list of heroes. He suffers from severe dyslexia, which made it difficult for him to achieve the same level of success in school as his classmates. He was told by his high school counselor, “Don’t worry about applying for college. You’re not college material.” Talk about a glass ceiling!
Telling Micah Fletcher that he is not capable of doing something is like saying “sick ‘em” to a bulldog. So, what did he decide to do when he was told that he was not smart enough for college? He picked a college and sent in his application, and was accepted. He went on to earn two bachelor degrees, and then enlisted in the United States Army. He immediately gained the respect of his fellow soldiers and his superiors, and quickly moved up through the ranks. The young man who had trouble reading English in school, learned the Arabic language well enough to serve as an interpreter during his tour of duty in Iraq. He returned home and got a job as a high school teacher and coach.
Other people will put limits on what they believe you can accomplish. They will tell you that you can’t do it. They will tell you that you’ll never amount to anything. They will tell you that whatever it is that you want to accomplish simply can’t be done. And they will be right, if you choose to listen to them. But you don’t have to listen to them!
Micah used his glass ceiling as a target. He aimed directly for it and shattered it to pieces.
2. Turn Down the Naysayers
When I was drafting an outline for this article, I first wrote “tune out the naysayers.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we don’t need to completely tune them out; we just need to turn down their volume in our heads. There will always be someone telling you that you can’t do it, or that you’re not good enough, or that we’ve already tried that and it didn’t work. The world will always have its Debbie Downers and Negative Nellies. Some people seem to thrive on throwing cold water on other people’s ideas.
So, why should we just turn down their volume instead of tuning them out altogether? First of all, they just might say something that you need to hear. There might be a thread of truth in their naysaying that can help you look at the situation more realistically and tweak your approach. Staying positive and motivated doesn’t require you to bury your head in the sand and ignore the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving your goals. You need to look for the obstacles, seek them out, and then figure out how you are going to overcome them. A naysayer might help you see an obstacle that needs your attention.
Second, naysayers can help keep you balanced. If everything was always peachy keen and everyone was always in your corner, life would be woefully unbalanced. When some negative force does finally come along, you will be completely unprepared and easily defeated. Naysayers help you stay prepared for resistance.
Third, naysayers can actually help you grow stronger. Bodybuilders don’t grow huge muscles by sitting around eating bon bons all day. They purposely create resistance by lifting weights in order to force their muscle to grow bigger and become stronger. They understand that strength requires resistance. When you meet resistance in the form of naysayers, that resistance forces you to grow bigger and become stronger.
Everyone has a nemesis. Batman has the Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. And you have ________________. It’s likely that someone’s name came to mind immediately to fill in the blank, and that’s OK. Be thankful for your naysayers. By simply turning them down instead of completely tuning them out, they can actually help you become a better, more balanced, stronger, more successful person.
3. Always be Recruiting
John Donne wrote the famous line, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” We are created to be social beings. We need other people in our lives to complete us and make our lives more meaningful.
I am the world’s worst at taking my own advice on this one. I tend to strike out on my own on most projects, without enlisting the help of others. Sometimes it’s easier and less complicated to just do it myself, to be a Lone Ranger. But even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
I am learning to be a recruiter. I am learning the value of seeking other people’s input and advice, and asking for their help. There are lots of benefits to being a recruiter instead of a maverick. When you involve other people in your projects and goals, you gain from their insight, wisdom, and ideas. “Two heads are better than one.” You can accomplish more when other people help you, because you can spread the workload. It’s also more rewarding when you have someone to share success with.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). If you are always only looking for “what’s in it for me,” you are destined for a lonely life. Get in the habit of looking for ways to help other people. As you develop your goals, ask yourself the question, “How can I pursue this goal in a way that will benefit other people as well as me?”
Selfish people miss out on so much. There is something inherently rewarding about making other people’s lives better. There is a deep sense of peace and satisfaction that comes from seeing other people’s lives enriched by your actions. Those feelings cannot be experienced if you never seek to serve others. Get outside of yourself. Spend your life loving and serving others. It will make achieving your goals so much more meaningful.
5. Don’t be Obnoxious
Nobody likes a jerk, so don’t be one. Before you speak, ask yourself the question, “If I speak these words, how will it impact the person or people who will hear them?” So much heartache and pain could be avoided if more people would ask that question more often.
Other people matter. Their feelings matter. Their ideas matter. Their lives matter. They are just as important as you are. (No, seriously, they are. If that is news to you, or if you disagree with that, you are probably an obnoxious person.)
If you get to the finish line and you’re all alone because you ticked off everyone else along the way … you lose.
- Don’t listen to those who put limits on what they believe you can do.
- Don’t listen to those who tell you that you’ll never amount to anything.
- Turn down the volume on the naysayers.
- Staying positive and motivated doesn’t require you to ignore the obstacles.
- A naysayer might help you see an obstacle that needs your attention.
- Bodybuilders don’t grow huge muscles by sitting around eating bon bons all day.
- Naysayers force you to grow bigger and become stronger.
- Be thankful for your naysayers.
- We need other people in our lives to complete us and make our lives more meaningful.
- Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
- Two heads are better than one.
- It’s more rewarding when you have someone to share success with.
- “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
- If you only look for “what’s in it for me,” you’re destined for a lonely life.
- Selfish people miss out on so much.
- There is something inherently rewarding about making other people’s lives better.
- Other people matter. Their feelings matter. Their ideas matter. Their lives matter.
- If you’re alone at the finish line because you ticked off everyone along the way, you lose.
- “Glass Ceiling.” Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed October 24, 2013. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/glass ceiling.