"Mountains shape strong men", and women as well!
As an apprentice cyclist, I still recall the first time I went uphill on a 10K ascent. Up until then, I thought I was a pretty good cyclist. I was able to keep a steady pace and stay with the main group in long rides. But I was in for big a surprise!
Riding uphill was very different from riding in a group on a flat course. In the group I was protected from the wind, most of the time, and I was able to cycle along and keep a conversation going with the rider next to me.
Riding uphill was challenging! The wind did not matter much, as the speed was low, but I needed to generate a high level of power, consistently over a long period of time. It was a nightmare! I was falling short of breath and my legs felt swollen after just a few minutes. The most terrifying moment, however, was when I lifted my gaze up towards the climbing road, getting a glimpse of the upcoming slope. This is when, an experienced cyclist next to me said: "mountains shape strong men!".
Indeed, after recovering from that day and going on to climb quite a few mountains, I did grow stronger legs and heart and my cycling improved dramatically!
The same principle holds true in professional life. There often comes a point in your career when things are getting "normal". When getting the job done is not hard. The skills are there and the environment is not too challenging. That is when you are actually growing soft. That is when you need to challenge yourself, to get stronger. If not, you may soon be out of the competition!
Physical challenges grow a stronger body. Think of weight lifting. A sore muscle after a tough exercise, will grow into a stronger muscle, provided adequate rest. The same applies to the mind and the heart.
Set intellectual challenges to grow a stronger mind. Keep learning, start writing, reflect, join a mastermind groups.
Set emotional intelligence challenges to grow a more compassionate heart. Be kind to your colleagues, demonstrate empathy, show gratitude, help others realize their dreams. These are key behaviors of successful managers!
Finally, do not forget to smile. Overcoming a challenge may seem hard now, but it is an investment for the future; and you will surely feel happy when the payday arrives!
Every now and then, check up on yourself. Are you climbing mountains, or are you in a comfort zone? If it is the latter, you should start worrying. You should start challenging yourself. No success comes without effort!