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The Smelly Box of a Stagnant Person

Do you actually believe that you can achieve things? Most people would instinctually reply, “Of course, I do.”


But do you? In my Leadershift call this morning, Mike shared a statistic with us: experts believe people typically only use 10% of their true potential.


If there was nothing in your way, if finances weren’t an issue, if everything was falling into place, would you reach your full potential? I believe you could, but I don’t know if you would.


People enjoy comfort. Stepping outside of what you’re good at and pursuing things, knowing full well you could fail, that’s scary- and often times that fear keeps people where they are. You have to decide if living up to your potential is important to you. Is it worth the sacrifices and the trade-offs you will have to make?


I get it- sometimes laziness is more appealing than stepping out and stepping up. Sometimes it doesn’t seem or feel worth it. “Nah, things are fine here. It’s not necessary.” Well, here’s an analogy Mike gave me this morning that might get your wheels spinning. “We are always walking on a downhill escalator. If we stop moving forward, we will begin moving back down.”


If we aren’t moving forward, this statement implies we are moving backward. So, here’s my question: Is “being stagnant” even a thing? I have heard stagnancy used as an excuse countless times as I’ve engaged in conversation with others about growth. Here are the two I’ve heard most:


-I’m just kind of stagnant right now. I’ll come out of it eventually.

-Things are stagnant, but the lull is nice.


Friends, if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. If you aren’t growing, learning, and getting uncomfortable, then you are backtracking. If you would like to argue that staying stagnant doesn’t take you backwards, I’d like to point out the definition of “stagnant.”


Stagnant: Having no current or flow and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence

“Being stagnant” will produce unpleasant smells in your life and it will creep into everything you do. It sure seems to me that THAT is moving backwards.


So how do we grow in our potential? Expanding your capacity starts in your mind, but if it stops there, you’ve missed the mark. Capacity must end in action. You have to have a shift in your thinking. Stop thinking “Can I?” and start thinking “How can I?” That one additional word opens the door. Instead of questioning if you can do something, you begin charting the course for actually doing it.


Don’t ask yourself, “Can we expand?” Ask, “How can we expand?”

Don’t ask yourself, “Can I start my own business?” Ask, “How can I start my own business?”


And on a more personal level, don’t ask yourself, “Can I be more self-disciplined?” Ask, “How can I be more self-disciplined?”


“How” is a small little word that can change the trajectory of your life, one decision at a time. This process is on-going. You’re never going to reach a point where you no longer need to grow. Remember that downhill escalator you’re on. In the big and the small things of life, from low impact to high impact obstacles, use this word to not only shift your thinking, but to also motivate you. When you begin believing that you can absolutely accomplish what you have set out to do, you will find an enthusiasm that wasn’t there before.


Your potential is limitless, and you can you absolutely can achieve things. This is going to take perseverance though. I think of the verses James 1:2-4 in Scripture- “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” There are other places in Scripture that discuss how suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character.


As you cling to perseverance and keep your eyes set on the right things, it won’t always feel good. I already mentioned that will be uncomfortable. Truth is, it might also be painful. Sacrifices are made, and there will be hard no’s and hard yes’s that you have to determine. There will probably be times when you desire to revert back to the comfort and ease of staying within the walls you built for yourself. Those walls are a box though, and your fullest life will never be lived inside of a box. Not to mention, that box will start smelling in no time at all.


The precious thing about your potential is that you are the only one who can determine it. So maybe we start with two guidelines for navigating the day to day:

-Manage your day instead of letting your day manage you.

-Develop a habit of excellence.


Take control of your schedule and determine throughout your days how you will actively pursue growth and step outside of your comfort zone. With every action you take, do it with excellence. This doesn’t mean you will do it flawlessly, but it will mean you put your all into it. Sloppiness isn’t an option for someone who has a habit of excellence.


I leave you with a question, and you probably already know what it’s going to be.


How can you achieve things, beginning today?



So here’s to growth. Our growth.


Amy Davidson


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