“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” — Thomas Merton
Through every peak and valley of our lives, faith and perseverance will continue to be the two biggest keys that permit us to move forward. Our goal is to make progress, to keep advancing and to keep furthering our human potential. Believing in ourselves and believing that things will work out in our favor is a great beginning. Continuing on course to victory is how we finish.
When I speak at conferences and at events, very often I’m asked after a talk about the best piece of advice I’ve ever received — or words of wisdom that have always stuck with me. I realize that I turn back to maxims or words that often boil down to very foundational values and principles. This one from my Dad resonates with me:
“Things will work out. They always do.”
I’ll admit, at first blush it may seem like this is the ultimate “I don’t have any control, so I surrender to the unknown” way of living. And yet, it’s actually not. Far from it. Simple. Impactful. Full on control. Faith and perseverance are two things that we can control. Faith — particularly faith in ourselves — is fundamentally a function of our attitude.
We can choose to believe, or we can choose not to. Perseverance is all about a willingness to see things through, to envision things positively working out even if they don’t work out exactly the way we thought they would.
The more I’ve advanced in my career, the more I’ve realized the wisdom of these words. For those of us have a future-seeking, opportunistic mindset, these words matter a great deal. When you’re already confident and self-assured that things will work out in your favor, your mind is at ease and more focused to achieve your goals.
A few years ago when I took the StrengthsFinder strengths assessment, I ended up with “Futuristic” as my number one strength. What’s crazy is that sometimes, I think of that as a weakness and not a strength! It can sometimes lead to a feeling of inadequacy or pressing. And yet, it’s also my biggest asset.
What about for you? What do you find to be your biggest strength? Can you see how this can sometimes be a weakness in some circumstances?
My Dad has always encouraged me not to sweat the small stuff. And to keep the big picture in mind. Whatever you’re choosing to do today, begin with victory. This is why I’m such a huge proponent of reverse-engineering. You already have the prize, you just don’t know it yet. Build from that. Stay self-assured, resolute and confident. Things will work out. They always do.
Building with faith
“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” — Steve Jobs
Things may not always work out the way we originally thought or envisioned, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work out. Often, they’re far better than originally expected. This is why modifying, improvising and changing things up is all about! Just because we thought things would happen one way, then didn’t, doesn’t mean we should get distressed and give up.
In some instances, maybe we haven’t aimed high enough. Maybe we set the bar too low. Aim as high as you can, within reason. Why aim lower? This doesn’t mean to set unrealistic goals that end up in disappointment. This means to set powerful targets for achievement in front of you that promote an attitude of expectancy!
What does this mean?
Optimism. Hope. Encouraged confidence. An attitude of expectancy charges our battery with the inspiration, belief and fuel to lead us to work that we love. To moments that will continue empowering us to move forward.
Dr. Jeremy E. Sherman writes in Psychology Today:
“We work from the evidence at hand to (place) confidence in a bet we think will work. And work is the point of faith: Only so many hours in the day and we don’t use them just for wondering, but for doing focused work. Since most things take concerted effort and time, we need to focus. Focused work is concentrated work, work based on consistent bets on what will work.”
I like to think of this as small bets — small, continuous bets of faith on ourselves to continue pushing forward.
Finishing with perseverance
“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
What are you compromising within your life today? What are you settling on that is not even close to good enough? Don’t settle, even when the results don’t appear right away. Because in so many instances, they don’t show themselves in as timely a manner as we think they should. The results that we desire won’t always reveal themselves immediately.
I’ve come to realize, this is one of the biggest reasons why so many people give up. It’s not a loss of hope. It’s not a loss of faith. It’s not even fear, because when we keep working and stay positive, fear eventually subsides.
So many people give up because they expect to receive an output in very short order after an input. When you’re raking leaves and looking to create a leaf pile, that may work out for you. But when you’re trying to grow ideas or influence, build a business, do things that are less linear, and perhaps more abstract, you’ll find that the results often come several iterations down the road.
If you crave structure, then you’ll want to find yourself working within an environment that is giving you outputs with efficiency. If you’re willing to tolerate more risk, less definition, yet with greater reward, I encourage you to stay the course for what you believe. Could be your own writing career. Maybe it’s launching your own business.
Don’t get discouraged if the results don’t immediately appear. Things have a way of working themselves out for those who continue to apply what they’ve learned, what they believe and what they desire to do every day.
Stop beating yourself up and hurting on the inside because you perceive that you haven’t done enough. We should all be great competitors and looking to best our best efforts, but we shouldn’t go crazy in the process with worry. Allow yourself to give things up to faith. Keep going to see things through to a result you desire.
If you’re willing to stick it out and believe, you’ll find that life continues to unfold in your favor.
Make it work
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This article first appeared on Medium.