“I thought I’d be further along by now.”

You may have uttered or thought these words. Achieving your dreams and reaching your full potential is a personal and sensitive subject. As kids, we had grand visions of what we wanted to achieve in our lives. This is especially so for the brave entrepreneurs and leaders who set out to build a business, to build something special – to chase their vision and make it real. I certainly regard myself as one of these brave souls. And I often find myself measuring where I am now against where I thought I’d be. Not surprisingly, there is always a gap. Sometimes it’s pretty wide and other times it’s gratifyingly small.

Here’s a secret: I hope there’s always a gap. The gap between where I am and what I’m striving for keeps me going. Here’s another secret: Compared to those grandiose ideas I had in my late teens and twenties, I thought I’d be further along by this time. I’m OK with that. Why? Because when I take time to reflect on my successes – and my failures – I feel pretty darn good about where I am. Fulfilled? No. Satisfied? Definitely not. Frustrated? Yes, but in a way that keeps me seeking new opportunities, situations and solutions.

Here’s one more secret: I know exactly what it will take to close the gap. I know it will take seriously long days, extended periods of writing and development, extensive travel and time away from home, and pushing myself far out of my lifestyle and comfort zone. So much so that I refuse to pay that personal price. Instead, I push as hard as I can without compromising what’s important in my life. One last secret: I’m never satisfied, so even if I do close the gap and achieve my wildest dreams, contentment will be brief. I’ll create another gap.

I’m writing this introspective because I know too many business owners and leaders who get consumed and demoralized, with “I thought I’d be much further ahead” thinking. They beat themselves up because they feel like failures. Even worse is when they start blaming their current situation on everyone and everything – except the only one who possesses the power to change things.

In order to reach your full potential, career goals, financial independence, making a difference in the world, or whatever you define as success, you must navigate the complex maze that life is. And, just to keep things interesting, that maze is full of hurdles, roadblocks and dead ends. Setbacks will occur. Things can even get ugly and scary. If you can’t take the blows that life throws at you, then you’re right where you should be. You were never really prepared and committed to achieving your full potential.

Success is hard work. Success comes from doing those things that make you stretch – that make you overcome your fears and insecurities. Success is a personal measurement – a benchmark that you alone set for yourself. If you just want a nine-to-five job and cherish lots of personal time off, that’s your measure of success. That’s where you set your bar – and that’s OK. But if you want to do great things with your life, be prepared to take that voyage and all the tests of courage it will put you through. By doing so, you learn to appreciate the gap and understand the true meaning of success. It’s your choice to make.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click the Comment button above.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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