Are you struggling with a difficult decision you need to make or challenging conversation you need to have or face challenges in your life that seem unsurmountable? Do you sometimes wonder why you seem to encounter more of these difficult moments in your life than other people?
As much as these situations aren’t easy, it’s important to see the bigger picture when facing challenges, so you can find a deeper meaning and remain flexible, agile and energized while you are dealing with them.
As we face our challenging Last 8% moments, it is easy to miss the bigger meaning behind them. What most of us don’t know is that we are all on journey, a Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey, as mythologist Joseph Campbell would call it – where our status quo, ordinary life, is upended and we are facing hardship and a real test.
There is a choice we have to make – to accept this Hero’s/Heroine’s journey and overcome these challenges or back away from them. And in order to overcome them, we need to transform ourselves. We need to learn new tools and gain new insights.
Every time you are willing to say ‘Yes’ to everything on your path, you express the hero/heroine inside of you.
The Last 8% - A Journey of Transformation
This is what the Last 8% Project is all about: to help you transform. The community, our Last 8% Morning podcast as well as our Last 8% Academy course are there to help you build the skills you need in order to leverage your Last 8% situations as a chance for personal transformation - so you can continuously evolve by taking small steps towards creating a better version of yourself. So you can show up as your best self. So you can be the kind of leader you want to be (whether you are a formal leader or not), the parent you want to be or the partner you want to be.
It’s an unavoidable fact that our status quo, our ordinary life, is often being upended. Especially the pandemic over the past year has forced us to face many difficult Last 8% situations – in form of conversations we needed to have, decisions we needed to make or a loved one we needed to take care of.
Not just during these times of change, but throughout all of our personal lives, careers or relationships we are being faced with difficult situations, conversations and decisions: may it be a divorce, a job loss, a business that is in jeopardy, a loved one who is facing illness, a manager who is toxic, a challenge your children are dealing with, or may it even be depression, anxiety or any other mental health challenges.
Throughout our lives, we all are facing challenges. It’s important to know that you are alone in this. We all are in this together.
As we begin this journey of personal transformation, I want you to see your challenges within this larger frame - this bigger picture of what life is: an extraordinary challenge in itself. Ask yourself: How are you facing these ‘dark nights of the soul’? How are you seeing the tough stuff in your life?
This, to me, what it means to be a Last 8%er. Someone who is aware of how they are facing challenges and accepts, even embraces them. Someone who is not only willing to meet their most difficult situations head on but sees their last 8% situations as an opportunity to create a better version of themselves.
Are you a Hero/Heroine or a Victim?
Ask yourself: How do you want to be remembered at the end of your life – as a someone who accepted the challenge – whether during these uncertain times or other difficult situations - and used it as a chance to build new skills, was open to guidance and help along the way, or someone who became passive, gave in and accepted defeat?
To be clear, there are real victims who have little control over their situation – be it war, a natural disaster or being born into poverty. But in spite of that, many of us fail to see that our choices are crucial for how things play out. It is our choices that allow us to rise above the pain.
Unfortunately, many of us abdicate this choice. Instead, without really being aware of it, we see ourselves as a victims and become passive. We might even feel justified in our victimhood and it might make us feel good for the moment, but it won’t allow us to free ourselves from a situation in the long run. It also means we miss a big opportunity for growth.
The signs of Victimhood as Heroism
If we see ourselves as a Victim …
- We become passive
- We blame others and do not take responsibility
- We feel shame and regret
- We lose energy and become weak
- We don’t get the outcome we desire
- We don’t grow
If we see ourselves as a Hero/Heroine, however, as someone who is on a journey and who is accepting of the challenge ahead, who is courageous, and willing to see their Last 8% situations as a test and an opportunity to transform themselves….
- We become more active
- We become less rigid in our response - we become looser and more agile in our approach
- We become energized
- We take more risks
And as a result …
- We grow confidence
- We grow new skills that will help us in all parts of our life
- We will become a role model for others
- We grow in empathy and feel an impulse to be of service, to help others see their challenges as an opportunity to transform.
In seizing this choice, we move:
From being a victim who avoids or a makes a mess of a situation, who lets fear and anxiety overwhelm them.
To being a Last 8%er - a person of strength and courage, who sees their Last 8% as a path to self-discovery, and is aware that they have a choice in how they respond. Who sees any challenge they face as a path to transformation. Who grows confident that they can confront any chaos and will triumph. Who is not only brave enough to meet their most difficult situations head on but even sees their last 8% situations as required to create a better version of themselves. Who knows and accepts that this is their mountain to climb, a journey that requires time, effort and the support of a team and community in order to transform. A Last8%-er moves from being passive, indecisive, even apathetic, to being decisive, active and courageous. They take responsibility and control over their narrative.
“The difference between a warrior and a victim is that the victim represses and the warrior reframes.”
Community and Skills – the two crucial elements on a Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey
What is at the heart of what stops us? We likely believe we need to do it all by ourselves, go the path of transformation alone. And we may not possess the skills that are required to face challenges head on.
We can’t do it alone
We tend to believe we don’t need anyone to help us. Many of us see ourselves as rugged individualists – an image that’s also being cultivated in the media - and there is a certain pride and honor in doing things alone. But it is a myth that we can do it all on our own. If you are a new entrepreneur thinking you need to strike out all by yourself, let me tell you that is impossible. It counts the same for any transformational journey you may undertake.
Think of movie narratives and various fictional characters we all know who all were called to an adventure: Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Keanu Reave’s character NEO in the Matrix. They all first lived an ordinary life that worked, but they weren’t truly happy with it. They also didn’t feel particularly courageous when they were called to an adventure and to face their challenges and in the process, which in the end, allowed them to transform. They each had to make a choice whether to remain a victim of their circumstances or choose a hero’s life – just think of NEO having to choose between the blue and red pill, to stay “asleep” or go down the rabbit hole and on the path of being a hero.
But none of them did it alone! They all met a mentor along the way – think of Yoda in Star Wars, Albus Dumbledore for Harry Potter, Morpheus in the Matrix. These characters were there to teach them, guide them and help them back up when they stumbled. These mentors knew the journey, they had been there before, they knew which obstacles would arise. In our real lives, it is often therapists or coaches . They listen, make you see you aren’t crazy, guide you, ask you questions and help you formulate a plan. They also hold you accountable. It doesn’t have to be a professional, but I do firmly believe you need someone by your side to support you on the difficult journey of transformation.
In the community of our Last 8% Academy, for example, you will have a peer coach as well as being a peer coach to someone for that very reason.
You need specific skills to manage your emotions
“What you most need will be found where you least want to look”
We need to build the skills of Emotional Intelligence to be able to navigate through these challenging times of our lives. A crucial part of these skills is self-awareness: the ability to get present to what’s stopping us, what’s causing us to play small, to know what’s causing us to avoid. We are teaching self-awareness in depth in our Last 8% Academy, but it always starts by understanding yourself. When we face Last 8% situations, we fall into one of two predicable default behaviors - we avoid or make a mess, which we need to be aware of and understand our triggers.
The second part of Emotional Intelligence is having the skills to manage our strong emotions. This is what all our work at the Last 8% Project is intended to help you with – to give you the proper tools so you can manage your brain and emotions when you are under pressure and need to deal with what’s difficult or uncomfortable.
The good news is that all these skills can be learned, and once we build them and face what is most difficult to us, we grow in confidence and courage, so we are ready to take on the next challenge. And we have a real chance to find what matters most to us – true freedom. The only thing that limits our freedom is our own mind. And it is entirely up to us remove our own shackles. This is what it means to be hero – not to blame others for our predicament but to choose our response. To see our challenges as an opportunity.
The characteristics of an heroic life
If we build these skills, we can choose to create a heroic life that is characterized by:
- Acting from a place of love and compassion instead of fear and anxiety.
- Approaching as opposed to avoiding that which scares us – to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
- Being in relationships with people who treat us well instead of choosing toxic, non-supportive relationship
- Taking risks and going after our dreams
When we are willing to get uncomfortable and see what we do not want to see, we get to LIVE parts of our lives that have remained UNLIVED before. It’s in the most challenging Last 8% moments and situations that we have an opportunity to wake up, and those are the areas where we find our greatest treasures.