I ran into Rob the other week. Ok, not literally into Rob, but close enough to have a decent conversation. Rob was an ex-work colleague that I hadn’t seen for a while – in fact we worked out that we hadn’t been in contact for nearly seven years. (Seven years – are our lives that busy?)
We talked for a while. He told me how was doing. “You know” he disclosed – “middling.”
Middling. I wondered what that meant exactly. He soon told me. He was doing OK. Making a living. Working at the same engineering job – and company – as he was when I first met him, only now a little older, a little greyer, a little more experienced. He had had another child – and another pay rise since I last seen him.
An opportunity even came up within that company for a transfer to another office overseas where his skills were is short supply. It seemed to be good money he said – but he and his wife decided against it – what with the kids, the wife’s parents living close by, the dog… you know…
“But otherwise…the usual” he mused. “Yeah…..I’m good”
I’m good. Well, I suppose I could see where he was coming from; kind of. After all I’d been there myself; most of us have. Ticking over. Forever steadying the ship. There is after all, something to be said for stability – even if it means ploughing the same old furrow, abiding by routine – It may be predictable and rather humdrum, but it gets results. Of a sort.
Results that are expected. Results that you’re used to, that you’re comfortable with. They may not be the ideal results you once dreamed of getting in life, nor the ones you yearn for, (still), or even those you feel you deserve, but at least you’re making it each month, squeaking by, and sometimes….the ship even gets to move slightly forward. And… at least you’re better off than a lot of people – I mean like those living in the ‘other’ of side of town right?
That’s one way to look at it I guess. The other is turn around and say, well, one mans’ furrow…. is another man’s rut.
Entertaining the Mundane
You see, there’s this thing with always prioritising stability, with consistently entertaining the mundane – it sort of gets to identify you, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
How can I put this – So you get good with computers – you get to become known as the ‘IT guy’, or perhaps you’ve studied and work as an accountant, you’re that ‘accountant fellow’, or you got into farming for whatever reason in the past, you are now ‘farmer Jones’.
Now all these may be noble and worthy vocations – but are they, or anything else you’re doing at the moment, your ideal life pursuits? Even if you love your job (and I’ve met a fair share of those who do) is it wholly fulfilling (financially, emotionally, socially, mentally) for you? If so then all power to you. Really.
But I suspect that for most of us – the majority – they’re not. Many of us ‘stumble’ or get ‘guided’ into careers or jobs for any number of reasons other than those that really matter – like identifying our true life passions and fully using our great, God-given talents and abilities to provide real value and service to the world.
And letting ourselves get ‘conditioned’ into this identity gets us super comfortable with it; And the longer we do it, the more ingrained it becomes. And this applies in all areas of life, not just our work – in our health, our relationships, our fitness.
Take weight loss. With only just a little research you’ll be amazed (well – I was anyway) at how many people who have experienced great health results such as massive weight loss success say that when they really thought about it, part of the problem of them being overweight for so long was that they were afraid of letting go of their ‘fat’ identity.
Yes really. Despite all the taunts and discomfort they endured, they say they were nevertheless always known as being the ‘fat kid’ – at school, through to college and later. As much as they hated it, it was, in some weird way a comfort to be distinct in some way – even if it was ‘fatness’ – and leaving something behind that they had lived with for so long proved to be more difficult than they imagined.
Hovering Amongst the Adequate
In the same way, our limited, conditioned beliefs of who we believe we are is one the main obstacles holding us back from progressing further – it’s a scary thing to abandon this notion of ourselves that we feel know so well (and that we have let others believe about us). Having to face the dread of things like sacrificing who we are now for what we can become in the future, or our contorted beliefs of what others think of us, keeps us at the numbingly comfortable “good” level.
And hovering amongst the adequate for so long affects us in every aspect of our lives – we don’t ask for that pay rise, not asking that person out on an date, not taking the chance to move to another city or country, constantly playing by the ‘socially accepted’ rules.
And, if an opportunity does come our way, an opportunity of any significance that is, instead of seizing it with everything we have and tackling it for all we’re worth, all we do is feel – metaphorically speaking – a slight bowel movement, then something warm and wet running down our inner thigh. Then we make up some elaborate pretext to disguise this fear and avoid the discomfort and hassle it will take to achieve our greatness, and return to our snug delirium of “good.”
I’m sure there are many reasons that keep us from being ‘great’. But these 5 are as good a place to start as any. Raise your hand if you’ve ever visited any of these issues in your attempt to go from good to great:
1. You Have ‘Sore Thumb Syndrome’
Don’t bother looking this up anywhere – you won’t find it. That’s because I made it up – well, the name at least. It means of course you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb amongst everyone else. It makes you look weird.
And you wouldn’t want to do that – God forbid.
Because once you start something different, something great, something worthy of your talents, something that may positively affect thousands of people, you’ll stand out from those around you, and that may make them feel insecure, inadequate, failures even – and we certainly wouldn’t want that. I mean, they might start asking themselves why they aren’t going for it….
Realize that sticking with the pack, at best, will only get you the results the pack gets – simply surviving in the unexceptional.
It’s just an unavoidable truth; If you want to achieve something exceptional, be someone exceptional and live in the extraordinary, you have to stand out from the crowd, be the sorest thumb there is – no matter what everyone else thinks. Simple.
As Mark Twain put it “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Reflect indeed. But do you know the saddest thing? That if you actually find out how often other people do think of you – you’d get very disappointed. Because it’s no-where near as much as you expect. You see there’s too much other crap going on in their lives for them to worry about you and what you’re doing. (Remember Rob? Well there’s proof if you need it. I’d almost forgotten the guy existed.) So don’t let your thoughts of what others may think of you hold you back.
2. You’re Conspired Against
Yup. There’s this big conspiracy against you. There are secret forces at work in the ether, sabotaging your every move. They’re in it with the government, your parents, your friends and colleagues, with taxes, with prices – with everything. No wonder you can’t get ahead.
No-one’s giving you a break. And anyway, you’re too tired at the moment. And it’s not the right time. There are too many hoops the government have put in your way for you to even get started. And everything’s so expensive these days, how are you supposed to get ahead?
You can think up as many excuses and justifications as you like, and even become an expert (OK, I’ll raise my hand here…) at it, but you’re never going to avoid the stark reality; That they all come down to one thing – a lack of responsibility.
Unless you take full responsibility for your life, what you have, what you don’t have, where you are right now with your finances, your health or any other aspect of your life, very little will change. It’s no-one else’s fault. The situation you are in has nothing to do with what parents, family, friends, colleagues, the government or whoever have or haven’t done to you. It’s only what you have or haven’t done that counts.
And as for things being expensive, well, I used to think that all the time – until I heard Jim Rohn say: It’s not that things are expensive…. It’s just that you can’t afford them.
Now there’s a thought….
The biggest conspiracy is in your head. Accept that you are the sole creator of your future, and there is no-one else to blame if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to.
3. You’re Right
Yup. All the time. You know best about what it is you are doing and how you go about doing it. No matter that you’re not overly successful at it, or even if you’re struggling – financially, in business, in relationships, whatever.
Let them rattle on with their advice, about whatever it is they’re rattling on about, nod your head politely and pretend to be taking it all in – or better still, just blatantly ignore them and head for the door. Then just carry on the way you’re carrying on, and all will get sorted out – after all, you know best, right?
Unless you take in advice, (advice from those who have actually been there and done it of course, and not from the wannabe’s and wannado’s) then you’re shooting yourself in the proverbial foot (not to mention head) and damaging your progress.
There is a success recipe that many self-help gurus including Tony Robbins advocate: It goes something like this: Decide to do something -> Take action on it -> Acknowledge what’s working and not working -> Adjust your actions accordingly. If things aren’t working, and you don’t accept that what you believed so long may if fact have been wrong, you’re not allowing the formula work for you as you refuse to adjust. The net result? You staying exactly where you are: stuck in the quicksand of your rightness.
Give up your right to being right all the time. Chances are that whatever it is you want to achieve, someone else has already been there, done that, got a sack full of T-shirts. So seek out their advice and guidance – and put your ego to one side for the sake of your greatness.
4. You Can’t Resist Being Sucked Back into Goodzone
So you’re in your ‘goodzone’ and you’re ‘middling’ nicely…but hey, you fancy a change. You’d think you’d like to be more successful in life, or, you think it would be really nice for you to become really great at something. So you decide to start something. Well the chances pretty high that in either case, you’re going to fail. Spectacularly.
Ask any successful person or read any biography of those who have scaled the heights of health, wealth and success, and I guarantee you won’t find a single instance of them saying they got there by ‘liking’ the idea of being successful, or thinking it was ‘nice’ to be rich. One of the chief attributes to their success was their unwavering belief in their ability and that they would get there come what may.
So unfortunately, just ‘liking’ something or thinking something is ‘nice’ just isn’t going to cut it.
To succeed in anything worthwhile, you have to learn new stuff, and grow accordingly as a person. And that takes a level of discomfort. Having a genuine belief that you will ultimately succeed in what it is you do will help sustain you in that discomfort till it becomes comfortable. Remember pain and discomfort are only ever temporary – endure them for long enough, and at the end of pain comes success.
It’s been said before but I’ll reiterate here: Its belief that changes worlds – A true belief that leaves no doubt the mind, that leaves no options open for retreat. Without it, the draw of your ‘goodzone’ will always tempt and tantalize you back with its insidious lure of fuzzy comfort and cosy familiarity.
5. You’re Not Worthy of Being Great
Certainly not sir. Not you. You see unfortunately what happened was, you, along with millions of others on the planet, missed out on the ‘getting smacked on the head with the worthy stick’ ceremony by the universe as you entered this world. (Perhaps you were too engrossed on watching funny cat videos on your smartphone or something at the time to notice… who knows.)
Whatever the case, the upshot is that now this means of course that you, along with the other poor souls, are forever condemned to a life of quiet discontent and non-achievement. As….only those touched by the ‘worthy wand’ can be destined for greatness.
Well, not sure how this, or any other stories like this people believe about being worthy or not, but, what is more probably the case, is that some people may feel less worthy due to early childhood influences and programming. Being subjected to negativity and being told ‘no’ continually (even if it was well-meant and said for the ‘good’ of the child) this builds into a sense of inability and carries through till adulthood. Then, making mistakes (as we all do) later in life only compounds this belief.
Professor Steve Peters in his book The Chimp Paradox describes these negative influences as ‘gremlins’ being planted in the mind at a young age, but with positive influences later on, can be removed. He also goes on to say that as far as life’s concerned, there are three truths:
Life’s not fair
The goalposts move
There are no guarantees
Well then, facing these odds it’s no wonder we’re going to make mistakes. Life may not seem fair on the occasions that bad things happen to you (we’ve all experienced a sense of loss or pain at some point over someone or some incident that happened to us) but overall I believe overall life is very fair in dishing out what it is we all deserve – like it’s not going to make millionaires out of those undeserving of it; only of those who have done what’s necessary to become one.
So this notion of worthiness is just a ruse – something we decided was truth very early on and have lived with it ever since. You are worthy of everything you want in life, and any mistake, setback or failure you experience does not mean you are destined for disaster, but will only serve to make you stronger and wiser in your pursuit of greatness.
Being Great – In Conclusion
There is only one more thing to add. Aspiring to greatness is a noble, worthy and inspirational pursuit – one that will allow you to bring, amongst many other things, your version of wonderment to the world.
And always remember what the greats say – being great is not who you are, but what you do.
So…What is it that you do?