The more difficulty, the more gain!

Simply let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Matthew 5:37 NIV

As we navigate the journey of creating and achieving goals, we are often required to say “yes” or “no” to opportunities that come our way.  Christ’s direction, as the passage above indicates, was very straightforward.  We are to express ourselves in ways that are clear, particularly when we come to the yes/no crossroad.  The figure below shows that “yes” and “no” can fall into two categories – easy and difficult.

It turns out that the things that separate a “yes” from being easy or difficult revolve around the amounts of courage, vulnerability and discomfort we are willing to invest.  Increasing levels of investment result in positive growth.  An easy "yes" results in stagnation and a deepening of the comfort zone.  The things that separate a “no” from being easy or difficult revolve around the fear of loss.  Saying “no” becomes more difficult when we feel as if the outcome will result in a loss – rejection, disappointment of self/others, failure, loss of approval, loss of relationships etc.  The irony is that our ability to step into a difficult “no” enhances the creation of healthy boundaries around us.

So, if personal development is positively correlated to difficulty, how are we able to accomplish our goals?  The answer lies in community.  The establishment of encouraging and empathetic connections results in the support that is necessary to make the hard and uncomfortable decisions that result in growth and safety. We cannot do it alone.  We need the help of like-minded individuals around us, who are going in the same direction and seeking the same result of personal betterment.

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