Friday, May 11, 2012

The Power of Plateaus

Doesn't a plateau just sound like it should be a nice, quiet, soothing place to be?
It sounds peaceful almost- plateau. And yet, it's exactly where that little voice in your head starts yammering on about how, "I knew this couldn't continue, things were just going too well", or "I'll never get there- this thing doesn't work either", or "I guess I just don't have the talent/willpower/smarts to do this after all".
You were making such gooood progress, and then you hit the plateau and it feels like a brick wall as you come to a screeching halt.
Plateaus are most often associated with weight loss, but they happen in every single goal in life. They happen in relationships, finances, and business too. In a marathon the 20 mile point is called hitting the wall. In aviation, for many years, pilots were afraid of hitting the wall called the sound barrier. They encountered the violent buffeting as they approached the speed of sound and were afraid that their airplanes would break apart. Some actually did.
But eventually pilots broke through the sound barrier, and like the marathoner who runs through "the wall" they discovered something very interesting. Once past the shock wave of transiting into supersonic flow everything just smoothes out. After they passed the sound barrier it didn't get harder- it got easier!
Isn't that interesting? The barrier is actually the gateway to faster and easier. The person who allows herself to be discouraged and quit at a plateau never even realizes just how close she came to a total breakthrough. For the person who perseveres just a little longer though it looks like this.
Navy F/A-18 Hornet passing through the sound barrier
So what does it take to break through your "sound barrier"?
Four power points in a plateau.
  1. Confront your complacency- sometimes we think we're doing everything we can, but if we're really observant we'll notice that we probably got a little complacent and maybe a tad sloppy. Go back to the basics- all of them- and continue on.

  2. Relax - sometimes we are actually trying too hard and we need to relax in order to move forward. Rest. Be grateful for everything you have accomplished and everything you've become. Appreciate the view and gather your energy for the next stage

  3. Integrate a new image- every big goal causes us to become someone new in the process, someone bigger and bolder. What I often see is that complications from this take people by surprise or silently sabotage them. As you grow you come to see a new person in the mirror and others see a different person facing them as well. That can be both exciting and scary for you. Not everyone else is thrilled about it either. Some are jealous, some afraid, some feel abandoned. Plateaus are a great place to take a breath and come to terms with that and claim all of your energy before you make the next big push.

  4. Vision and Decision- if you're having trouble finding the energy to decide to push on, your Why isn't big enough. Why do you want this? How will your life be different as a result? How will you be different? Get really specific. Paint a picture that you can see, feel, taste, touch, and hear. When your Why is big enough the decision is easy.
Plateaus are not a bad thing. They're an invitation to something greater, to step into a bolder more powerful version of you. Plateaus require courage from you to stay on course and the vision to move beyond them.
Plateaus are Power Points
Whether you are facing a challenge around weight loss, business, or something else, my challenge for you is to find out, where is the power in your plateau?
That F/A 18 Hornet passing through the sound barrier is pretty cool, huh?
But the picture of you passing your "sound barrier"?
Even cooler!

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