The Stability Trap

 

Today, we’re going to dig into one of the exchanges I discuss in 8 Essential Exchanges: What You Have to Give Up to Go Up, but before I begin, I want to reintroduce the concept of exchanges to you.

Exchanges are the toughest choices we face in life. They are trade-offs between two equally good things or between something good and something better. To pursue the better, we have to give up something, often a source of security or something we really enjoy.

Today, I want to focus on exchanging stability for significance. This is the process of giving up something good, and as a result, experiencing discomfort in the pursuit of something better.

Do you think stability is a bad thing? Did you get up this morning and say, “If I could have a little bit more instability at work, in my family, or in my finances, that would be great”? Probably not, and you shouldn’t. We all seek stability in life because it is a part of our human nature. The desire for stability drives us to seek circumstances and situations that are safe.

Nobody naturally seeks instability in the most important areas of their life, but this becomes a problem when our obsession with stability stands in the way of doing something significant.

For me, this exchange happened when I was working for a congressman right out of college. I had my own apartment, a good salary, a nice office, a comfortable work environment—everything that, to me, signaled that I was on the path to success. I was settled into my stable reality when my friend, Garrett, approached me with the idea of starting a company dedicated to equipping and empowering young leaders through experiences around the world. The mission and vision excited me, but I wrestled with the prospect of leaving the security of my stable job to take a risk and pursue something I was truly passionate about. Ultimately, I took the leap, and it was one of the best and most important decisions of my life.

Exchanging stability for significance looks different in each person’s unique set of circumstances. However, the result is usually the same. Most of the greatest regrets happen when individuals choose the safe route rather than the significant route for their lives.

Zig Ziglar said it best: “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want now.”

We all seek immediate satisfaction and too often trade lasting purpose to gain temporary comfort. Unfortunately, this promise of present stability doesn’t lead to lasting happiness or a fulfilling life.

In order to do things that are significant, we have to be willing to experience instability.

Maybe you need to quit your higher paying job to pursue your passion of reaching students as a teacher.

Maybe you need to humble yourself and reconcile your relationship to an estranged family member.

Maybe you and your spouse are empty nesters, but you need to consider adopting a child.

Maybe it’s time to be bold and share your faith with the friend you know does not believe the same thing you do.

Maybe you need to use your one free night during the week to cook dinner for the neighbor that’s struggling and needs some extra help.

An exchange for something eternally significant is a change that’s worth making.


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Today, business means more than just mere products and services. Your organization needs to stand for something. Branding is what you tell the world; leadership is how you make it come true.

No one knows this dynamic better than Kevin Paul Scott.

Companies turn to Kevin for advice on how to up the meaning-quotient in their businesses, so that employees and customers alike champion the business as if it were their own.

Let Kevin come and teach your group about how to build a business and communicate corporate values in a way that resonates with consumers.

His speeches include:
• Building a Business with Meaning
• Leading When the Majority is Wrong
• In Changing Times, Hold to Unchanging Principles
• The War for Talent: Recruiting and Retaining Top Tier Talent
• Essential Exchanges: What You Have to Give Up to Go Up