Don’t think of a pink elephant.
Did you know your brain is terrible at not thinking of things?
You could be playing a fabulous round of golf. Best round of your life. Then you step up to the 14th tee box and you see the signature feature of the course: you’re hitting over a lake.
No big deal. Hit it 100 yards and you’ll be fine. You’ve been doing that all morning.
You step up to the ball and you can’t help yourself. “Don’t hit it into the water. Don’t hit it into the water. Don’t hit it into the water.”
Then your brain starts thinking, “Hey… we’re thinking about this water a lot. It must be important. This must be where I need to send the ball…”
A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. —Jean de la Fontaine
The biggest end we have in mind is the person we’re trying to become. All of the five-year plans, goals, projects, and daily task lists are the means to that end.
That’s a big outcome. We spend our whole lives working on it.
Out of everything we do, it’s the one place we refuse to settle for mediocrity.
We aim high. Are we going to hit it? No. We’re not perfect. We get tired. We take our eyes off the ball. In short, we’re human.
If anything is off with our aim, it’s that we’re not aiming high enough. We overestimate what we can do in a day, but we underestimate what we can achieve in ten years. Now extrapolate that out for however many years we have left on this rock.
That’s a lot of potential we’re leaving on the table.
Marianne Williamson said that our greatest fear is not that we’re inadequate, but that we’re “powerful beyond measure”. We talk about fears of not amounting to anything, of nobody noticing when we’re gone, but we sandbag our performance, playing small, as Williamson put it, so that we don’t stand out. Only too late do we admit we wish we would have done more—would have become more.
We’re not going to become everything we set out to become. It won’t happen. That’s okay. But that doesn’t invalidate everything that we do become. So what if we didn’t achieve everything we wanted to? We got 98% of it, or 90% of it, or 72% of it, or whatever. Don’t focus on what you didn’t achieve. Focus on what you do achieve.
The higher you set your sights, the higher you’re going to reach. If you believe that you’re capable of performing as a 10, then you’ll just do all the things along the way that 5-, 6-, or 7-performers do. If you believe you’re an 8 and you encounter a problem that takes a 9 to solve, you’re going to give up. I’m just an 8. This is beyond me. Oh, well.
If you believe you’re a 10 and you encounter a level–9 problem, you’re going to keep at it, even if you’re only actually an 8. Huh. This is tough. But I’m a 10. I can do tough things. And you keep at it. And you solve it. And you level up. Now you’re a 9. You grew. Way to go!
Babe Ruth went down in history because he hit more home runs than anybody else. He also struck out more than anyone else. That’s not the part that history remembers. It’s not the part that matters.
Swing for the fence, but be patient with yourself. It’s a long process. We start small because that’s all we’re capable of when we start. But we grow. We become capable of bigger and better things.
The highest achievers in this life—the crazy ones—are the ones who see themselves as 10s early on. They believe in themselves. When they hit an obstacle, they keep at it until they level up. They stay focused on the end they have in mind, no matter how long it takes.
The world needs more crazy ones. So go a little crazy.