Six years ago I compared the way I viewed my life to Diablo II (ok, yes, I was a gamer at one time). I was going through some challenging things after kicking major ass at everything I had previously done. I felt pretty awesome and had new (audacious) plans.
But here I was getting my ass kicked in what seemed like all my new endeavors! What was the deal? I was the one kicking ass just moments ago. And in fact, my past ass kicking lead me to my current ass getting kicked. What the hell happened?
I'll tell you what happened. I had leveled up.
The playing field changed. The demons were stronger, sharper, faster. I had to up my own skills to kick these demons, skeletons and undead asses. And I was taking a beating. That's the bittersweetness of leveling up. Paying homage to your awesomeness, even while eating your humility. The Zen Mind / Beginner Mind. The challenge of/for growth. Evolution.
I probably don't need to write this, but all kinds of things level up: individuals, companies, teams, ideas, products. It's a natural part of the process. But it's never easy, in fact, it requires more diligence, attention and effort. But it's worth it, because you're playing in a new game.
You've passed the previous levels and it's here you find worthy challenges. Challenges that you will pass, another level complete. The levels themselves don't really matter, except in the play, practice and execution you engage in. No one level is particulary better or "higher" than another. The importance is present awareness and attention to the worthy challenges. And practice. Lots and lots of practice.