Want to Soar Higher? Shed Your Sandbags!


If you want to be all you can be, then you have to cast aside the dead weight that’s dragging you down to mediocrity. John Maxwell reveals three sandbags that leaders need to toss.

Hot-air balloons were originally propelled, not by heating the air, but by releasing helium or hydrogen. The gases, being less dense than air, generated the lift to carry the balloons skyward. These gas balloon-aircrafts were outfitted with sandbags to provide ballast. When the pilot wanted to gain altitude, he would throw the sand overboard so that, free of the extra weight, the balloon could soar to its highest potential.

Most of us have sandbags in our lives that hold us down and keep us from reaching our full potential. Burdened by them, we’re stuck cruising at low altitudes, near to the ground. Here are some of the more common sandbags we carry…

Sandbag #1: Procrastination
Procrastination isn’t limited to lazy college students. Most of us have lifestyle changes that we know we ought to make, but that we avoid making because we dread the discomfort of breaking old habits and forming new ones. Lacking the courage to take action, we tolerate unhealthiness in our relationships or mediocrity in our job performance. 

Sandbag #2: Impatience
A worthwhile goal...
• Is more difficult than we anticipate;
• Takes more time than we anticipate;
• Costs more than we anticipate.

If we operate with a microwave mentality—always expecting instant results—then we will give up on our goals far too soon. When it comes to potential, there are things we work for, and there are things we wait for. It’s a colossal mistake to wait for something you haven’t worked for! Reaching our potential happens neither immediately nor automatically. Diligent effort, over time, is the most reliable recipe for success.

Sandbag #3: Improper Response to Problems
Many people fail to think resourcefully when they encounter obstacles blocking them from reaching their potential. They spend time whining rather than designing strategies to overcome the impediments in their path. Indeed, in a typical workplace, there are far more problem spotters than problem solvers. People are quick to complain about problems and slow to propose creative ways to fix them. Make it your personal policy not to bring up a problem without offering at least one suggestion for solving it that involves action on your part.

Thought to Ponder
According to author Robert Louis Stevenson, “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” If you want to be all you can be, then you have to cast aside the dead weight that’s dragging you down to mediocrity. What sandbags are you carrying that need to be tossed away?


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