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“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In my years of leading countless programs and coaching scores of clients, I have seen this truth manifested time and again: those who succeed at the highest levels of performance and influence in the long-term—whether in business, on the playing field, or any other field of endeavor—are those who are able to do two things:

–  They recognize when they are coasting, even when performing at the top of their current game, based on the players with whom they’re playing, and

–  They choose to notch up their game by playing with better players, on bigger fields; they willingly embrace the unknown.

They choose discomfort. They choose to grow.  Not to make more money, though that may be part of it, no, they are motivated rather by a desire to become more than they are now, to reach for a higher level, to find out if it’s in them.

It usually is: playing with better players raises your game.

Here’s how the truly successful got there: they leaned into their future.

Buddhists have a concept in keeping with their stance of non-resistance, that when you are experiencing emotional or physical discomfort, you’re best to “lean into the pain.” Not push it, simply lean against it as you would a friend on a cold evening.

Until you can admit you are both the least important and most important person in the room, and until you are willing to let go of what was working in order to make room for something that works even better, that which is outside your reach will remain there.

You must be willing to become comfortable with discomfort.

Reach. Then rest. Assess. Then reach again. Enjoy the journey. And be grateful.

This is the strategy of the successful.

“There is no top. There are always further heights to reach.” ~Jascha Heifetz

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