We don’t build a colosseum in a day, nor a business, an organization, or a life you love. If life is calling you to take on a massive project, at some point, the work will feel never-ending.

Often, people abandon a big vision because the stress feels too much, or they believe their stress means they’re doing something wrong.

The truth is, to see a project through to completion, we need to stay the course, even in the face of discomfort.

I invite you to imagine that you hook a rubber band around your right forefinger and right thumb, stretching the band between them. (If you can grab two real-life rubber bands right now, even better.)

Your thumb represents where you are now in your life, and your forefinger represents where you want to be. The tension between your two fingers resembles the creative tension you feel when you’re stretching toward a big goal.

You can see where you want to be, but you’re not there yet, and that’s uncomfortable.

Many facilitators call this space the groan zone, a place in which you’re likely to feel confused, impatient, bored, scared, and all sorts of other not-so-fun emotions.

Staying true to a vision requires you to keep going through the tension.

People who think tension is a problem are more likely to aim their efforts toward trying to get rid of the tension than on reaching their goals.

It’s as though they bring their fingers together so that the tension releases and the rubber band becomes floppy. They drop their vision lower and lower to their current reality until it’s all but forgotten.

On the other hand, people who don’t believe their tension is a problem report more energy, fulfillment, productivity, and meaning. Of course, they still feel uncomfortable. But they have an easier time moving forward and picking themselves up after they fall.

Now, back to the rubber band analogy. Imagine that you pick up a second rubber band. You hook one end on your right thumb (the one representing your current reality) and the other end on your left forefinger. Then, you pull this rubber band back with your left forefinger, making it harder to hold the first rubber band.

Your left forefinger represents all your stories rooted in powerlessness and worthlessness.

Imagine releasing this second rubber band. When you release the stories that hold you back, it becomes much easier to move forward, even in the face of creative tension.

Now, imagine maintaining the tension between the fingers holding the first rubber band, between where you are now and where you want to be.

Feel what happens when you stay with the tension rather than releasing it by making your vision smaller.

When you keep your eyes on the prize and don’t flee from the discomfort, creative tension can propel you forward—kind of like a slingshot.

Next time you feel creative tension, notice if you start trying to get rid of it. Then, stay with the discomfort, knowing that it’s an essential part of the journey, and take your next step.

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