It is an interesting mental exercise to consider what you might do if you were stranded in a vast desert. Depending on the kind of person one is, I think there are three general responses:
- Make an effort to find your way out but give up fairly early in the process with a “this is too hard”.
- Put moderate effort into finding one’s way out, but give up at a midway point, perhaps before all one’s energy has been expended.
- Push yourself continuously, with a never give up mentality until you literally collapse on the ground, dead.
Your answer to this question is important because it will determine how you approach situations that call for enormous effort. For example, I fall into category 3. There is no such thing as give up in my vocabulary and while that may sound like an entirely laudable way to go thru life, it does get in the way on more than one occasion. A head-down-plow-forward approach means that sometimes, ways of doing things with less effort are missed. And, it means that there are times that recognition that the ‘thing is just not going’ and not meant to be, could come sooner and allow for pivoting into an alternative path.
Knowledge Defines the Approach
So knowing which of the three categories you fall into can help guide you to an approach that will allow you to exercise the muscle you personally most need exercised. For example, I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been doing Bikram Yoga, a 90 minute
yoga class in a 105 degree 40% humidity heated room on a fairly regular basis. As a true beginner to the practice I recently had the opportunity to be reminded of the category I fall into, when, struggling with round 2 of a particularly contorted pose (each of the 26 poses are performed twice), out of the haze of agony came a thought, quiet at first, but increasingly stronger: “I need a break”. While it went against my very DNA, I came out of the pose and sat down, caught my breath for a few minutes and rejoined the class at the start of the next set.
For me, ‘my yoga’ was (and continues to be) to go against my nature and acknowledge that I need a break. For someone in category 1 they may need to ignore early discomfort and plow forward—their yoga may be to develop a stick-with-itness-despite-the-discomfort. Knowing which category you fall into will help you craft an approach that will allow for continued growth.
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- About the Author
Nathan Safran is a former Analyst at Forrester Research where he covered the Digital Home. While at Forrester, Nathan authored research studies on trends, attitudes and behaviors of consumers toward technology adoption and use.
Nathan has been quoted as a subject matter expert in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Fortune magazine. Currently, Nathan heads the Research Department at Conductor, Inc an SEO Technology Platform firm.
Nathan writes at exceljockey.com about the intersection of Business, Technology and Psychology. See the About page for more info. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @Nathan_Safran