Where Dividends Come From

Not just financial, but in all areas of life.

Dividends are defined as a payment made to a company’s shareholder out of profits or surplus. In other words, it’s the portion of profit paid back to the investor after a profit or surplus. Only if the company is making a profit can they pay a dividend.

Dividends can also be paid to ourselves in all aspects of our lives and work. This came to me during my morning workout that’s part of my morning ritual.

You see, I have a cold. And, I almost didn’t run this morning, but I threw on my running closes and hit the streets. My lungs burned, my heart rate was higher than normal and my sinuses stung in the crisp morning air. At the end of my run, just a handful of miles, I do a little workout. It’s mostly based on yoga, with ample stretching, but I also throw in a series of vinyasa flows (a down-dog, to plank, to hover (chaturanga), to cobra and back up again, all done in slow motion): a minimum of 11 repetitions on most days. Today as I hit flow number seven, thanks to my cold, I was fatigued and thought, “These next 4 to 6 are the ones that pay dividends.”

The well-known researcher, best-selling author and TED talk star Brené Brown explains that one of the worst things we can do is pretend that fear and uncertainty don’t exist. By facing our fears, taking controlled risks and challenging ourselves to go outside our comfort zone, we can experience the uncertainty on our terms, in controlled manners. In this NY Times article Brené references a zone called optimal-anxiety. This is the realm where we’re stimulating improved performance. Beyond that, we’re unproductive, below that, we’re under-productive.

Dan Pink in his best selling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he states that “We need a place of productive discomfort, if you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.”

When we go above and beyond is where dividends are paid.

In our workouts this manifests through running that extra mile, doing sprints to accelerate our heartbeat and go into anaerobic states, doing the extra reps to take our muscles into “failure realm.” It’s how both our heart and our muscles are strengthened.

In our personal lives, it’s having the difficult conversation that we know we need to have with our loved ones, friends, colleagues and even the sales rep at Verizon. It’s hanging into these difficult conversations with a state of presence, vulnerability, and strength — especially when they are uncomfortable, difficult or down-right challenging.

In our work it’s going beyond our comfort zone: saying yes to the assignment that will certainly stretch you, saying yes to speaking event even though it scares the crap out of you, saying no to the misaligned client even though the money looks good, saying no to the extra project because you know you’re already beyond your limit and you’re committed to delivering excellence.

In our artistry work, it’s pushing our own creative boundaries: exploring work that is likely to fail, at least at first, experimenting with new styles techniques and mediums that we haven’t yet mastered, showing work to the world even though they may not love it, buy it or “like” it on Facebook.

In our writing, it means digging deep and exploring new ideas: finessing concepts that we’re exploring within our writing (after all, writing is really about putting your thinking down on a page and the process of working out ideas as we write).

In our journaling it’s delving into the meaning behind the surface thoughts and asking “what do I mean by that?” or “what’s in there for me?”

Dividends are only paid if you go beyond your comfort zone.

Only when you stretch your limits do you know where they are and do they move to new places. When we stretch ourselves we improve ourselves.

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