The importance of opposition

Today one of my favorite bloggers and business thinkers, Seth Godin, posted an interesting post in his Blog titled “The forces of mediocrity.” He describes how you’d expect that when you’re doing something right, smart, valuable, or constructive, that people would line up behind you. But, in fact, the opposite is true. He points out that as you start to make progress, that’s usually when you begin to meet resistance. The forces of mediocrity will align to stop you.

I touch upon this in “It’s not the critic who counts,” but it’s like crabs in a bucket. If you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket, even though each has the “potential” to climb out, none of them can, because the others surrounding them pull them back down.

Often our progress is thwarted by the efforts of those who surround us (even if inadvertently). This is why mediocrity abounds all around us. It’s why there are so few who find a way to stand out from the crowd and become “remarkable.”

But there must be opposition. If there were no opposition, there would be no value. The whole mechanism of excellence, progress, and success becomes void without that single, seemingly contradictory principle of opposition.

Newton’s law of motion states that “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” It’s not that the laws of the universe are conspiring against us, but rather that without opposition, excellence would cease to exist.

A kite requires a string to fly

A kite cannot fly without the opposing force of the string holding it to the ground.

One of my previous (and highly respected) bosses, Darl McBride, once told me, “You always seem to get the most flak the closer you get to your target.”

It’s true, often the amount of resistance you encounter can be a direct measure of your progress, and persistence is the only way past it. Don’t give up, don’t quit, and don’t lose hope just because you find things become tough. Things of value are never easy, whether you’re talking about relationships, parenthood, business, physical conditioning, or any other critical area of your life. If it’s valuable, it won’t be easy to obtain. It all requires an unending sense of “stick-to-it-iveness.”


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