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Aggressiveness, Part I

I firmly believe that aggressiveness is an essential character trait for achieving goals.

Used in the conversational sense, the word conjures up images of a brash Donald Trump-esque angle shooter who’s always looking for a way to squeeze more out of a negotiation. That’s not what I’m talking about. Aggressiveness, as I define it, means proactively taking more responsibility for a desired outcome, leaving less in the hands of others and to chance, acting, and doing so with urgency and regularity.

Lets’s take that one piece at a time: proactively taking responsibility for a desired outcome means that it starts out with an internal examination. You ask yourself, “could I be doing more?” You consciously choose to seek out new opportunities for action, even if especially if they’re unorthodox, uncomfortable, or out of your comfort zone. Leaving less in the hands of others or chance is a part of that mental exercise. It is a lens through which you see actions you might not otherwise see. Acting is the most important part. Once you identify some actions you can take, you do them. It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re “correct” actions–at least not as much as you might think. As Goethe said, once you act, “Providence moves all,” and you tend to get sifted to where you need to be. Doing this with urgency means exactly what it sounds like. You can’t be aggressive and be a procrastinator. And doing so with regularity means that this is a habit that needs to be constantly cultivated.

Aggressiveness as a habit is a difficult thing to master. Part of it is to constantly challenge and extend yourself beyond what is comfortable. So if you ever think you’ve finally got it, that’s just proof that you don’t. It’s a sliding scale of difficulty, and as your comfort zone and capacity to see possibility expand, the goal line moves farther away.

It may be that there’s an upper limit to this character habit, beyond which it’s impossible or not useful to be more aggressive. Speaking for myself, however, I’m nowhere near there.

I’ll have more on aggressiveness in the near future, together with a few specific exercises for cultivating this habit.

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Categories: Personal Development
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