The Death-Ground Strategy

The comfort zone is something that makes a lot of us settle for much less than our potential could actually take us. The comfortable life is the anti-progressive one. The irony is, it is something we seek; stability and comfort are highly prized. But, is it worth it?

I would argue that it is not. Comfort is an ugly breeding ground where stagnation ensues and growth halts. Before we realise it, our spirits would become dampened, restless. Negative habits develop, and life plummets before our eyes. We are on a ship that gradually sinks. And getting out of it is not a simple matter, because the comfortable life – if we have gained it – would be anchored by our personal successes, career successes, our identities, friends and family: all that we are too afraid to lose. A life built for comfort is a major complex hell of a trap.

That is not to say that we should not nourish ourselves. Of course we should. But comfort is an unnecessary luxury. How do we break out of it? One way is to psych ourselves up for success. But this requires tremendous discipline, and our human psychology and inherent tendencies to seek comfort could slow us down.

But there is another more immediate, effective approach to shake our lives up. Robert Greene, in his book The 33 Strategies of War, calls this the Death-Ground Strategy.

Place yourself on ‘death ground’, where your back is against the wall and you have to fight like hell to get out alive.

You basically need to place yourself in a swim or sink situation, or where you have a dog chasing your ass. It is throwing yourself out into the deep end, and in such an environment there could be no turning back, no excuses you could conjure up. You do not have to psyche yourself, and mental indecisiveness and the nagging questions of discipline all go out of the window. It is either you die, or you succeed. As Greene writes, ‘leaving the past for unknown terrain is like a death–and feeling this finality will snap you back to life’.

This could manifests in several ways. It depends on what you want to achieve. To let unresourceful habits die, you need to realise where their breeding grounds are; if it is your home, you could pack up all of your belongings and go live in your car. You could quit your job to devote 100% focus into your business. You could take up a leadership position that you could not easily back out of, so that you are forced to grow beyond who you currently are. It is a counter-intuitive approach to life, where in this case, you eliminate any back-up plans. Then, your body, mind and spirit is forced into action, kicking into higher gear, and you would have intensity and purpose you once never had.

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