"Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it."
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965); British statesman, prime minister, author, Nobel Prize winner
When I'm out on my bike, there's nothing so welcome as a lucky tailwind. Suddenly the pace picks up and the work seems a little easier. What is a fight in one direction turns into a kind of glide by comparison.
A tailwind can be a disadvantage, though. If you're used to measuring your performance when the winds are favoring your direction, you get a skewed picture of your abilities. You can't truly train with the wind constantly at your back.
As Winston Churchill astutely observes, it's a headwind that makes a kite rise. Adversity is just the thing to build strength and soar. Not only do we find the best in ourselves when we're forced to manage the stiff winds, we also emerge with a greater sense of satisfaction from the unexpected heights we attain.
If you're living with a permanent tailwind, you're shorting yourself some of life's most satisfying moments. There's nothing wrong with taking it easy from time to time, but if it's all a cruise there are two reasons why:
1. You're not challenging yourself. This might mean setting easily attainable goals or objectives which are safely within your comfort zone. Headwinds train us, they make us strong. Crosswinds train us, they force us to deal with instability and uncertainty.
2. You're not doing something new. This might mean you're never innovating or seldom pursuing something original. New ideas encounter opposition. Challenges to the status quo threaten people and they point out where others are riding the tailwind. Sometimes if you're doing things right, headwinds take the form of "haters."
This week, don't forget to keep track of which way the winds are blowing.
By Scott Levitt