One of my favorite quotes from Bruce Lee: "If you alway put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else — it will spread into work and into your life. There are no limits — there are only plateaus and you must not stay there — you must go beyond them."
What is Bruce really saying when it comes to your career or business?
Everything in your life is a plateau on an endless mountain. You work hard — you move up — and make it to the next plateau. You get settled — you enjoy that plateau — and then you make plans to move from that plateau to the next plateau on the mountain.
And I promise you — if you stay at that plateau for a long time — one of three realities will occur:
1. You WILL get bored of that plateau and start self-sabotaging behaviors.
I see this happen all of the time. We get comfortable and we get to know our responsibilities, our deliverables, our customers. Unfortunately, a career without challenges tends to become predictable and boring. And when things in our life become predictable and boring — we tend to take them for granted.
We start to let some areas grow fallow — we start to procrastinate on delivering — just a bit at first, but then it becomes endemic. We might start coming in later to work or leave earlier. We might not get back to our best customer as quickly as we used to. We spend a little too much time surfing or sleeping on the job — and everyone begins to notice.
Solution: When you start to get bored — the very millisecond you get bored — start looking for the new plateau to move to and START CLIMBING.
2. Someone WILL kick you off that plateau.
In my Welcome Packet I send to new clients, I have a powerful quote on the front cover: "If you aren’t continually reinventing yourself, your company, or your brand, it’s only a matter of time before you become obsolete, irrelevant, and go out of business." And that's 100% true.
Someone or some company is going to come along and shake your apple tree. You might see the apples fly all over the place and say to yourself, "I have a strong stem — nothing will happen to me."
But you're wrong. Think of what's happening right now in the marketplace — what has happened to the publishing, newspaper, media, advertising, music, auto, banking industries (just to name a few)? If things aren't falling all around you — you might be falling off the number one spot to number two (or three). Or your vocation is changing and YOU need to chart out a new direction for your business to sail towards.
Solution: Keep your peripherals moving at all times — keep looking around and see if anyone (or any company/industry) is going to begin to take over your plateau. Don't get comfortable, get moving.
3. Your plateau WILL disappear and you will fall.
We frequently make the wrong assumption and think, "This is a great job/company, I am challenged every day, and nothing will really change (at least for the time being)."
You're WRONG. 40-50 years ago, you might be right — my father had his position at Electrolux until the day he retired. But stop kidding yourself — those jobs are GONE.
In fact, each year, the market is moving faster and faster. Industries that were booming just a decade ago are now gone. I'm always in awe when I visit my local cable company (usually to trade in my broken DVR player) and see just 10-15 years ago all the awards on the walls, the photos of all the accomplishments, the parties, the fun that filled all the offices and people there.
Now there are two VERY bored people on the other side of the glass partition who collect cable payments and exchange DVR players. That's it. Everyone else is GONE.
Solution: Sometimes plateaus disappear instantly, but most of the time, it take awhile for them to totally evaporate. So you have time — not a lot of time — but just enough to find that next handhold and start climbing up.
So the only logical decision to be made is to start climbing up. Because you don't want to start climbing down.
There's no time like the present — START CLIMBING.
P.S. By the way, this also applies to your life too. Your marriage. Your friends. Keep it fresh! Keep it growing!