The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” - Michelangelo
Read that quote one more time. Let it sink, don't simply glance over it. Roll it around in your mind and analyze it. Are you someone who aims too low? I know I have been. I still am in certain areas of my life. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Don't we know that we've only got one life to live and that each day we waste is a day we can never get back? We know this. But we don't think about it. You know it. But you ignore this fact and opt instead for low expectations.
Why do you have such low expectations? I have a theory. I want to share it with you and then I want you to decide how much it rings true or not in your own life. I believe you set such low expectations for yourself because you focus too much on your feelings instead of outcomes.
It is my belief (especially among young people today) that they are entirely too preoccupied with how they feel instead of focusing on outcomes. What do I mean by outcomes? Let's say you want to become a great chef. An outcomes person will then immediately start listing and thinking about all the things they must DO in order to be a great chef. The feelings person will instead just savor the thoughts and how it would feel to be a great chef. But they will take little if any action. In short, an outcomes person takes appropriate action to achieve a desired result, a feelings person will largely spend most of their time dreaming and thinking about how awesome it would be to achieve that result.
Focusing on our feelings is easier because it is 100% subjective. No one can tell us we are not feeling the way we are. Their reality manifests itself to us and it doesn't matter if anyone else can see them or not. Outcomes are entirely different. If I set a goal to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month and I don't, that is objective. It is measurable. No amount of cognitive dissonance will save me when I step on that scale at the end of the month and see that is has not gone down. But if I just want to FEEL like I've lost 10 pounds at the end of the month, I can insure my success whether I lose 10 pounds or not. You can't argue with someone's feelings.
I look around today and I see many people who have this worldview that feelings are more important than outcomes. They are the kind of people who expect the world to change around them so that their feelings aren't hurt. They take very little responsibility (if any) in toughening their own skin, getting a backbone or simply letting bygones be bygones. Outcomes based people take responsibility because who else is to blame if you didn't lose those 10 pounds? Is society to blame? Is McDonald's to blame? A feelings person may think so. They may look outside themselves for the answer when the answer lies within.
Let me use another example. My life and background is in personal protection; saving and preserving lives. Let's take an elite military operator like a Navy SEAL. If you are a SEAL, you cannot say you "did a good job" if your carelessness caused 4 members of your team to die. The outcome of your teammate's deaths is inescapable and unavoidable. SEAL's must live in the world of outcomes and results because if they don't, someone dies. Strategy, training, tactics, gear, first aid, etc. all are paramount for them and they all must be competent enough to execute under extreme pressure. The consequences are dire if they don't.
Contrast this with someone who lives in the world of feelings. They need not care if they lose those 10 pounds or not because there are no real consequences (at least not acutely) to be felt if they don't.
I think that a huge reason you set such low expectations for yourself is because you live in the world of feelings. Said another way, because you focus so much on how you feel rather than what you achieve, you set your expectations very low. It is easier to hit an undefined, subjective target than a defined, objective target.
Suppose you had to take a marksmanship test in a military sniper course. Imagine if instead of there being clearly marked targets for you to fire at, the drill instructor just pointed to an open field and said "Open fire". You look back at him, puzzled. "Open fire at what?" You ask. "Just anywhere." The instructor says. See the absurdity? How on earth would they know how well your marksmanship was? They couldn't. Now imagine further that you just fire into the empty field and the drill instructor passes you ... how confident would you feel going into combat? This is what it feels like when you pass a feelings person in any area of life without them having to prove themselves. You know they can't do the job and they know it. But we pass them anyway out of fear of hurting their feelings. This can only happen in areas where the consequences are extremely low. If this happened in elite military branches, the safety of the entire team would be jeopardized all for the sake of not offending someone or hurting their feelings.
What this does to the feelings person is even worse. They feel terrible because they know they can't perform the job and they are extremely insecure about that. Having received a grade of "pass" they will be very protective of it lest someone ask them to demonstrate something they can't execute. It's a horrible position to be in for both parties.
If you want to stand out in the crowd of today, set objective, measurable goals and then achieve them. This automatically separates you from the majority and places you in the minority. Raise your standards, objectify your goals and start to live in the world of outcomes.
If you want to be a good this or that, find out what you must do and then do it. Talk to people who have and are currently doing that thing and copy them. Innovate by adding your own personality to it and daring to be unique. Do not settle for the life of feelings and low expectations.
Warriors are outcomes based individuals because at the end of the battle only one things matters: did you survive? Did your teammates survive? Did your family survive? No amount of feelings can change reality if you die or your family dies. If you are someone who focuses too much on feelings, go get a sheet of paper and a pen and write down some objective, measurable goals right now. Tell other people about them so you can be held accountable. Dare to fail objectively. It's ok. Just keep going.
"When life knocks you down 7 times, get up 8." - Japanese proverb
Everything in life you desire, be it something material or immaterial will take an outcomes based approach to getting it. Decide what you want, and then figure out what you must DO to achieve it. Who must you become to achieve it? What people do you need to know in order to achieve it? Do this and watch your life transform.
Welcome to the Anatomy of a Warrior Blog!
National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.