Combating Comfort and Challenge


There is a constant battle between pushing for greatness and seeking the comfort of the status quo. As an achiever, you know that the status quo will simply not do but nor will constantly pursuing the challenge. In this episode, I share how both are important and the 2 characteristics that are essential to every achiever by examining the pursuit of the very first achiever.



Hey, guys. Ralph here. Author of the acclaimed book Deepening Growth: Powerful Lessons in Cultivating Your Personal Transformation and founder of the Plaskett Institute where we help passionate coaches, consultants, and educators strengthen their personal and professional mastery so that they can create transformational impacts.


Look, hey, guys, I know it’s been a minute. I had the flu. One thing I would advise not to get if you can avoid it at all costs. And I’ve really been bogged down working on some projects here so that I can deliver more value to you. 


I want to have a conversation about combating comfort and challenge. In comfort and challenge, we have two things contending with us and it’s our mind and our ego.


Our ego wants to pursue. Our ego wants to do things so that it can get accolades. Our mind, on the other hand, wants even keel, status quo comfort, and we have to battle against it. As an achiever, as someone who’s looking to do more than beyond their reach you’re combating the mind’s desire to be at comfort and your ego’s desire to pursue beyond their aims. And this is something that we have to contend with.


So, we’ve had conversations before about the complexity of life, and how we need to learn how to embrace complexity, not shy away from it, right? If we were to shy away from it, as an achiever, we would say we would avoid comfort at all costs and we will continue with the challenge. But that’s not realistic. What we come to learn as we understand what it means to develop into the fullest capacity of ourselves is full rounded concepts of the human condition. Which means rest and reflection is an absolutely essential key. 


This is one of the aspects of How to Win in 2020 that I delivered in a video earlier last month, in January. Rest and reflection is a critical key to our ability to achieve the pursuits, right? If we continue to pursue, pursue, pursue, without the appropriate intervals of rest and reflection – reflection giving us the capability that we need in order to see how we have done and improve what we will do – we will burn out and likely fail at our pursuits.


The Difference between ‘Or Thinking’ and ‘And Thinking’


We can’t have one or the other. This is ‘Or thinking’. ‘Or thinking’ was illustrated in Jim Collins’ work, “Good to Great.” The difference between ‘Or thinking’ and ‘And thinking’: ‘And thinking’ embraces complexity while ‘Or thinking’ seeks simplicity, but it has no basis of reality in the human condition. What can we do here is, as an achiever, as the one seeking to achieve beyond their arm or their aim? As an achiever, what we need to do is … build in periods of rest and reflection as we pursue the challenge that we’re after.


The Concept of the 1st Achiever:

So what does this mean? 


I’ve had this concept that I call the first achiever. You see, in my mind, there was someone, it might have been no one, but there is someone out there that could be considered the very first achiever. An achiever is defined as someone who achieved beyond their societal or environmental conditions to achieve something greater than they or society would’ve thought possible. 


So, in that condition, there was one person who did it and there was no one before them. Now you’ve got to see where I’m coming from with this concept of the first achiever. Today we have the beautiful ability to see the success path of many achievers in every aspect of life. Be it in parenting, be it in business, be it in sports, and any category that you can think of. There has been someone who has paved the way, and most likely multiple people who have paved the way so that we can see what success looks like, and how to go ahead and obtain the success attributes of an achiever in order to follow that pursuit to achieve our personal aims. So we have this ability in today’s society, but the time of the first achiever, they didn’t have that. They had nothing to go back and reflect upon.


Two foundational success attributes:


All they had was two attributes. Just two attributes. Now they could have had significantly other attributes and characteristics – which I’ve identified elsewhere – but at the bare minimum, there are absolutely two things that are needed to pursue our aims. Two things that are equal across the board for every achiever. 


Thing number one is a vision. “Yeah, Ralph, I know a vision. Everybody has to have a vision…”, but think about it. This is the first achiever.


There is no one who has achieved around them and in their environment is a group of people, society, who wants to keep things at the status quo. They want to keep things at the level of comfort. They don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to rustle any feathers. They don’t want to have any issues with their neighbors. So you have this environment that is seeking for you not to do anything beyond the status quo. This means you’re not getting support from your family, you’re not getting support from your friends, you’re not getting support from anyone.


That makes it that much more difficult. So, to have a vision on where you want to go is absolutely critical in this environment because you don’t have anything else that’s going to be able to support you. The vision supports you on your pursuit. It’s what gets you up in the morning. The vision is a thing that you need in order to continue the fight. Again, remember the conditions and the environment is not conducive for you to achieve something no one has ever achieved before. So to have a vision is clearly needed in order to know where they are going to go. 


Now hear what I said. Have a vision so that you can pursue.


Clarity may not necessarily be there. And often when you have a vision as grand as this one is in the very first achiever, there is no clarity…you just know, “I got to get to the moon,” as an example. How are you going to get there? I have no idea. Let’s start figuring this thing out, is what the conversation holds. 


Clarity comes through practice and experience and going through the rough patches in order to realize the vision. And as you get a better understanding of what this path looks like, is then you get a better clarity on the pursuit of the vision.


So what else is essential to the very first achiever. Okay? Again, remember the conditions of our environment are not conducive to pursue beyond my aim. So what do I need in order to pursue me on my aim: Perseverance. Perseverance would be the second thing that we need in order to move and accomplish beyond our aim. What does that mean?


It’s going to be rough. It’s going to be rough and rugged as they would say. It is going to be difficult. It’s going to be tedious. You’re going to cry, you’re going to doubt yourself. You’re going to experience emotions that you never thought possible because you are pursuing something that no one else has thought possible and therefore… You have to now build up the perseverance within yourself to continue the pursuit. That’s not an easy task and I’m, by no means looking to dilute it by saying you need to have perseverance… And…you need to have perseverance because it’s not an easy road. 


Do not allow the imagery of success that we see out here on social media to be the thing that you determine your success by. I know certainly for me it has been a thing that I had to continue to remind myself of. 


My pursuit is my pursuit. The way that I am looking to achieve is the way that I am looking to achieve. Yes, there are examples of the thing that I am trying to achieve and I have something to gauge myself towards. And my pursuit is my pursuit alone, and I should not measure myself against the pursuit of others. Again, we don’t know the full story. That’s why we don’t ever want to measure ourselves against others. We’ll measure ourselves against our own walk, our own pursuit. 


So those are the two things. Now, again, there are plenty of other characteristics, but these are the two things that are essential, absolutely critical for the achiever: have a vision, and have perseverance. These are the two things that are absolutely essential.


As we looked and we tried to shape the environment that’s situated for all of this. It is essential for us to understand that we need to be able to continue moving forward, build up the motivation, build up the driving force, build up the consuming desire. Be as the first achiever was, and go ahead and say, “Man, regardless of what my environment has given me, regardless of how my environment is supporting me, I have a vision, and I need to do daily build-up of myself so that I can pursue that vision, with perseverance.”


I’m Ralph Plaskett and I’m so excited to be able to share this information with you. Visit me at that’s Ralph R-A-L-P-H plaskett, for more information just like this, and until next week, enjoy the greatness that is life.