As an FBI agent, one of the first things I learned was that the real threat to my existence didn’t dwell in dark and dangerous places. Instead, it was complacency that could lead to my extinction. 

There are all sorts of ways to die. Sometimes it’s our bodies, but just as often, it’s our dreams and aspirations in life. We find a comfort zone that doesn’t ask too much of us, and in return for our complacency, it parks us in a safe place. Until, of course, we realize that this safe place also keeps us locked behind the bars of predictability and the slow, inexorable death of compromise and resignation.

I’d like to share an excerpt from Frank Sonnenberg’s new book, Leadership by Example: Be a role model who inspires greatness in others. The author exhorts us to think about a well-lived life that breaks out of comfort zones and easy choices. (Reprinted with permission):

“Staying in your comfort zone is easy. You don’t have to think, you don’t have to learn, and you know exactly what to expect. In fact, you can almost live on automatic pilot. Right? The problem is that if you remained in your comfort zone your whole life, you’d still be crawling like a baby. That said, you grow most when you face the unknown, tackle new challenges, and are confronted by adversity. During those times, you’re put to the test and your moral character is shaped. Do you take the path of least resistance or rise to the occasion and embrace new horizons? 

Every time you face adversity, you grow stronger; every time you fail, you gain humility; and every time you lose, it makes you more resilient. But knowing that’s true doesn’t make those experiences any easier to swallow. 

Sacrifice today and win tomorrow.

Will You Choose What’s Right?

Every time you make a choice, there’s a corresponding tradeoff. Are you willing to sacrifice today to ensure a better tomorrow? 

Choices are easy. The hard part is living with them.

You face decisions every day. Here are 25 choices that define you as a person. Which path will you take? Do you:

  • Do what’s right or make exceptions when it’s convenient? 
  • Think for yourself or subscribe to groupthink?
  • Accept accountability or sidestep responsibility?
  • Invest in your future or refuse to make the sacrifices?
  • Help those in need or expect others to shoulder the burden?
  • Stand up for what’s right or remain silent and not rock the boat?
  • Address challenges head-on or kick the can down the road?
  • Feel happy when others succeed or resent them for their achievements?
  • Admit mistakes or play the blame game?
  • Create win-win situations or aim for winner-take-all?
  • Stand firm for your beliefs or bend rules to win acceptance?
  • Forgive and forget or harbor bitterness and animosity?
  • Encourage honest debate or shut down dissenting opinions?
  • Live with honor or make exceptions if you can get away with it?
  • Stand strong when things get rough or quit at the first sign of adversity?
  • Discipline others for inappropriate behavior or look the other way?
  • Invest in your personal growth or whine that you need a break?
  • Confront your fears or surrender to them?
  • Invest in your future or complain that people like you don’t stand a chance?
  • Accept your share of menial work or contend that you’re above it? 
  • Address your poor habits or make excuses for your shortcomings?
  • Listen to your conscience or give in to temptation?
  • Put others’ needs ahead of your own or make everything all about you?
  • Work hard to secure your rewards or think the world owes you?
  • Accept responsibility for your life or constantly rely on the good graces of others?  

Will You Rise to the Challenge?

Every day that you sacrifice, you build strength; every time that you overcome a challenge, you build determination; and every milestone that you cross builds confidence. 

That’s easy to say, but harder to do.

There will come a time when the stakes are high, you’re under stress, you’re out on a limb by yourself — and an opportunity stares you right in the face. You will be confronted with the decision of whether to jump at that opportunity or rise to the occasion, do the right thing, and decline it. That decision will require courage, character, and conviction.

You’ll weigh the short-term benefit versus the long-term consequences. 

The next time you’re faced with a decision of this kind, pause for a moment…and think. Will you do what’s right or what’s convenient, consider others or think only of yourself, listen to your conscience, or do what’s popular? Some folks may steer you in one direction while your moral sense guides you in another. At the end of the day, it’s not enough to say that you’ll do what’s right; it’s what you actually do that makes the difference. It’s your choice, your conscience, your life.” 

This post is excerpted from Leadership by Example: Be a role model who inspires greatness in others by Frank Sonnenberg © 2023 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.

Frank Sonnenberg is an award-winning author and a well-known advocate for moral character, personal values, and personal responsibility. He has written 10 books and has been named one of “America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders.” Additionally, his blog — FrankSonnenbergOnline — has attracted millions of readers and was recently named one of the “Top Self-Improvement and Personal Development Blogs” in the world and one of the “Best Inspirational Blogs On the Planet.” Frank’s newest book, Leadership by Example: Be a role model who inspires greatness in others, was released June 13, 2023.

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