The Delta Effect
I love nature. The spectacular landscapes created by the American Appalachian Mountains, the great Plains of Africa, and the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system: They are all amazing and fascinating. But what I find most powerful and remarkable are the great rivers of the world. The Nile, which is the world’s longest river, is so powerful that it transforms every land it passes through.
A river is symbolic of a transformative process that begins small but as it progresses its impact is massive. The greatest impact of a river is felt at its end. It forms a geographical feature known as a delta; a finger-like feature formed as a massive river branches out to form distributaries that drain the water into an ocean or lake. At a delta, all the sediments, the fertile soil, that was collected as the river flowed downstream are deposited. Making the delta region to be fertile for farming and home to a varied wildlife.
Like a river that ends at a delta, we can agree that in any process or journey of life, we can come to the end and harness the value we have accumulated along the way. The experiences, lessons learned, and wisdom gained could be the fertile ground to plant our next goals in life and avoid the pitfalls of many one-hit wonders. This is when we can say we have crossed the finish line well.
Stages of progress
As we have learned in the last few weeks, there are different stages of progress that we must go through to see the fruits of our hard work and commitment to making progress in any area of our lives. We must have the ability to turn big ideas into big results, learn complex and hard things, and have endurance in life. Today’s post is focused on how to end well; crossing the finish line, the final stage of progress. I believe that the end of progress is important because it determines if you are able to have serial success: that is, as we close one process and start another, you are able to keep producing more success. I plan to share with you two things that facilitates serial success; a mindset and an attitude that you must have not only as you progress in life but most important as you cross the finish line in any race of life. Here they are:
For a long time, I was planning my life around my goals. All these changed when I turned 29 years. I was working my first corporate job in a field that I went to college for. One afternoon, as I was taking a “reflection walk”, it hit me that I had accomplished all my major academic and professional goals; I was exactly where I had planned to be in life. But then, I quickly noticed danger lurking ahead. I had observed that most of the people I was working with at the company were quite successful; majority had advanced degrees and were working in good positions. However, they also seemed to be unsatisfied. Their dissatisfaction was evident by their daily complaints about their careers. The danger was being trapped in a career that I had worked hard to have. This was as a result of living by goal-mindset versus living by growth-mindset. Don’t get me wrong, goals are fundamentally important, but it has to be based on a long-term growth plan.
A growth-mindset is essential when we are going through life and most important when we are coming to a transition, like how I was transitioning from academics to working life, because of three main reasons. First, a growth-mindset allows you to look back and analyze your experiences. This turns your experiences into a school. You look at your successes and ask yourself what are the key decisions that made your success possible. You also look at your failures and ask yourself what you would have done differently to avoid the failure in future. Second, a growth-mindset, allows you to look at your present stage and analyze your present opportunities. Often, one-hit-wonders, people with only one success, miss to look for opportunities when they hit their success. They party longer and when they are done celebrating, they feel the weight of going back for the next race to a great burden. They settle for one success and that’s all they are known for. Anytime you are successful at anything, don’t stay on the podium too long but rather go back and train for more battles and successes. Third, a growth-mindset allows you to look forward with anticipation. You look forward to applying whatever lessons and wisdom you learned in your past to your present and future opportunities.
I can assure you that a growth-mindset will assure that you achieve all your goals and live a purpose driven life. When I started living from a growth-mindset, not only did my approach to progress in life get transformed, I experienced a shift in attitude. I started having an attitude of gratitude in every step of my journey, especially when I approached the finish line.
2. Attitude of Gratitude
The most challenging part of any progress is finishing well. Most people quit right before their breakthrough. It is when you approach the finish line that you need to put all your effort. Often, discouragement looms in the last half a race. What I have discovered is that when you are on the final stretch of any process, it is the attitude of gratitude that enables you to mass-up the last ounce of energy to make it to the finish line.
An attitude of gratitude reminds you of three things. First, it reminds you of the people who have come along the way to help you get where you are. You remember who is on your team and the people who are cheering you on. Lack of gratitude often make can make you feel like you are all by yourself and makes you susceptible to discouragement before you cross the finish line. Second, it helps you realize the great opportunity you have had to be in the race despite the pain you have gone through or are still going through. As I am working on my PhD. I realize that an attitude of gratitude is important to remind me of the opportunity I have had to be a PhD. student. This has helped me to remain on course. Third, an attitude of gratitude allows you to be a giver. Once you are grateful it is impossible to be selfish. Gratitude make you want to share with others the valuable lessons you have learned along the way and to provide support to others who are on the same journey you are on. This helps you to cross the finish line with others. Those in front of you become your mentors in the next race and those behind you become your mentees.
Finally, an attitude of gratitude has helped me discover that success and satisfaction intersect at the realization that it’s God who blesses me with the ability to do what I do, and it’s the people around me, like you as you read, who support me do what God has enabled me to do. I am grateful to God and to you (the reader) for without you I would not be enjoying the process of writing.
This week we are celebrating Thanksgiving and I have a challenge for you. Before the end of this week take time and write a personalized letter (email can work) to at least three people who have greatly helped you in any journey you have taken this year.
Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving.