Like millions of people all over the world, I was glued to the TV last November watching Nik Wallenda break two Guinness World Records with his daring Skyscraper walks. If his first attempt was not amazing enough when he walked across the Chicago River at an elevation of 588 feet and rising, he ramped up the challenge with his next attempt. To add even more excitement, he ventured out on the tightrope blindfold. The crowd below was cheering so loud when he reached the end of the rope, it was deafening. Of course, watching the record breaking feat from my living room, I was in awe at his precision, focus of attention, and Wallenda’s confident ability to perform such a daring feat without a flaw. Everyone was in disbelief at what one individual had accomplished and as Wallenda was basking in the glow of victory, hugging his wife and children, Twitter was a hotbed of activity. With all the tweets flooding the media, one tweet struck me immediately because it summed up what everyone was thinking. The Tweet read:
Certainly, what had occurred was nothing short of amazing and unbelievable, however, I couldn’t help but instantly connect the tweet with the definition of insanity that Einstein so famously stated. In fact, all you need to do during times of change is to remind everyone of the words of Einstein and they all seem to “get it”. You know the definition I am talking about:
Of course, Einstein’s definition can be interpreted from a negative or positive aspect. Without a doubt, this famous quote is usually perceived as negative action and holds true for many people embarking on change. The reason insanity associates easily with change is the intense focus on the need to fix and improve the weakest point in order for a new result to occur. So, the game plan is to intently work on a weakness with the hope of getting better. Just keep your eye on your weakness, repeat the action over and over again. How do you think that works out? Yes, I know, insanity.
Then again, Wallenda practiced the same moves over and over again. I suspect that he practiced his moves so well he could do them blindfold. With each repetition his results were different. That is, consistency of the same action gave him more confidence, enhanced his skill, and increased his proficiency. He became insanely good, a very positive action. Instead of devoting his time and energy to fixing a weakness, Wallenda focused his attention on his strengths and continued to develop what he loved doing. Most important, his actions aligned with his passion creating a winning combination raising him to new heights.
In other words, the difference between a negative or a positive action when doing something over and over again and expecting a different outcome is where you focus your attention. If you consider the amount of energy involved in repetitive action, would you rather be doing something you love or something you dislike and more than likely will never find enjoyable?
After all, we all have weaknesses, no denying the fact. Weaknesses are energy drainers with the ability to suck the life out of any task. For many people seeking employment, the dreaded interview question, “What is your greatest weakness?” creates the most stress. Who wants to admit they have weaknesses? Yet, most employers really want to know where your most vulnerable space resides. Crafting a positive answer to a weakness question is like asking Grumpy Cat to smile for the camera.
Similarly, we all have strengths. However, a strength may not necessarily be identified as something you are good at doing. Certainly repeating and action over time gives you certain level of expertise, yet, ask yourself if you truly enjoy the work and feel passion in what you are doing? The strengths with the ability to break down barriers, help you move out of your comfort zone, and propel you to the next level are often hidden within other actions. Working with many people who are seeking greater purpose in their work, I am always amazed how strengths surface in a conversation. Robust leadership strengths unknowingly are present and once identified become an “ah-ha” moment. Of course, the real turning point for change is not just working with your strengths over and over again but finding strengths that stir your passion. Developing strengths with passion through repetitive action produce unexpected outcomes, often resulting in joy, happiness, and excitement. Just positively insane.
Even though Einstein might have known a little about physics, I don’t think his strength was defining actions. In fact, he had it all wrong because it is possible to do the same thing over and over again and get different results. Maybe writing it in a formula would have helped him understand. Here is a winning formula for success that does produce very different, outstanding results:
Strengths + Passion + Repetition= Success.
Strengths, passion, and repetition equate to becoming insanely good at living a life that is satisfying, rewarding, and record breaking.