An easy observation to make about humans is that we create things. Looking back into history we have seen this for thousands of years. We have continued to build and develop all manner of things. From tools to monuments. From cave drawings to renaissance paintings. From carriages to air planes. With no end in sight. It seems that we are naturally born to create. Some of us have a passion or even a painful need to do this. With all the resources we have today, the examples of achievements through history and the communities around us, we are inspired to set huge goals and high standards. But when you start to chip away at these massive challenging goals, you often lose sight of the task or fall off course. Before you know it years have gone by and you are dumbfound on why you never accomplished them.
Many of us downsize our goals to something more "realistic" or acceptable by our family and friends. You let fear set you on course to pursue something you recognize as safe and wise, because that is what your uncle did and he turned out okay. Or your friend knew someone who tried to do that same thing you want to do. And they ended up broke, homeless, and alone. So you decide to take the tried and true route.
Others dream so big that they let go of their original lofty goal, in pursuit of an even larger payoff in some other unrelated realm. But instead of committing to their new goal, they constantly notice the greener grass over the next fence, and plot a way to get there. It becomes a perpetual cycle of skipping to opportunities (often away from their true passion) in pursuit of money or fame.
Some of us blame bad circumstances or challenging times. Perhaps health problems or injuries have occurred. Maybe family has died or a career has been destroyed. The stock market might have collapsed or a hurricane destroyed your town. It seems that something completely out of your control creates an unpassable barricade. Blocking you from 100% reaching your goal.
But eventually, life does go on. And after a while we all reach a point where we stop to reflect on our lives. Our goals and dreams. Some of us have a better ratio of success to failure than others. We have gratitude for the success to justify our hard work. We tend to look back on failure and find a reason to justify it.
And if you are anything like me, you are pissed off. Because you understand deep down that this is all your own fault. No disaster, no matter how bad it was, is responsible for this outcome.
It's not because your parents set you on a different path. It's not because you had a traumatic break up. It's not because your house burned down. It's not because you got your legs amputated. Years ago, you visualized where you wanted to be and what you wanted to be like. And then, you allowed the world to take it away from you. You fell behind on your plan, and that is the reason you are angry.
Believe me, I understand better than most. Bad things happen. People die. Places change. And it is hard to let go of the moments that cause you the biggest set backs.
But if you settle on believing that you are a victim of circumstance, you are doomed. You may be able to come to terms, and find a way to carry on surviving. But that is an endless cycle of pain and wondering. Because life is bound to deal you challenges and failures no matter how successful you become. This is the nature of the human experience.
When you own the disasters in your life and take full blame for them, you begin to gain strength through acknowledging and accepting the pain that comes with them. Your failures, are like gasoline. You can put them into your engine and use them to cross the finish line. Conversely, you can also pour them all over your body, light a match, and burn yourself to death.
This is a mistake too many people do unknowingly. They let fear cause their past failures to build up then explode and destroy them. If they just manifested a pinch of confidence, they could blast off like a rocket ship to the moon.
Im not a therapist. Not a doctor. Not a psychiatrist. These "qualified professionals" often have the best intentions, but are trained to sedate and stabilize you. I am not like them. I am a person like you. When I grew up, someone gave me a cup that was half empty. After a near death experience, I made a new choice. To realize my cup is half full. It always has been. And after turning my life around, I learned so much about the human mind.
Contrary to popular belief; every single one of us always ends up getting exactly what we want. And then some.
Most people would laugh and confidently say "that's not true. I've wanted a Ferrari since I was five years old and I still ain't got it!" but there is a key thing we fail to take into account. Our standards.
We all have standards. Things we are willing to accept. We choose and define our standards mostly by what we have learned growing up. Places we have been. People we grew up around. And what their standards were. We often set dream up an extravagant life style. A multimillion dollar mansion filled with lavish furniture and sports cars in the garage. And endless source of money that replenishes itself without effort. Or maybe its traveling the world living out of a suitcase and exploring. Perhaps its being the largest non profit organization that provides sustainable housing to homeless people. We have dreams. And sometimes they become goals. But RARELY do they ever become our standard.
Most people I meet have more common standards that sound kind of like this:
- I never sleep with anyone on the first date
- I won't drive a car after more than three drinks
- I am not friends with people that disagree with my political views
- I refuse to stay at work late
... Honestly that is me being polite...
I have developed a few of my own standards along the way too:
- I wash dishes when I finish using them, and never leave dirty ones in the sink
- I won't go to sleep without brushing my teeth
- I write a page in my journal every day regardless of whether its good or bad
- I refuse to use drugs or alcohol
But there is something we always seem to overlook. Our standards define us.
We have a goal. We work at it. Sometimes we even achieve it. But then what happens? We return to our lowest standards. Maybe it takes a while of slowly becoming negligent and returning to base. Alternatively, some of us immediately throw up our arms, celebrate, and get black out wasted then wake up handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Disagree if you want. But this is just the cold hard truth. No matter how successful you become, you always return to your lowest standards. This is the reason the lottery curse exists. The reason rock stars join the 27 club. And also, the same reason that the rich get richer and the poor stay poor.
There is something "successful" people understand that others do not. And it's the fact that you can change your standards. You can shape them like a ball of clay. Like paint on a canvas. You can pick and choose your standards down to the tiniest detail. You. Just you. And no one else can do anything to change them.
Yes, you were raised and taught certain standards. They were pawned off to you from your family, your friends, your favorite actors, athletes, and artists. It happened to me too. Well guess what. Those standards got us both right here. It took me way too long to figure out that I had poor standards. My family didn't intentionally teach me these challenges. They just passed me exactly what got passed to them.
This also happened in families that were much better off than mine. Wealthy people taught their children habits and standards of the wealthy. Some adopt these and navigate their way through life by them,. Others in search of success that can't be measured in money may abolish those standards and create different ones.
When I fall behind on my path to success, I get angry. Because I visit my lowest standards again and they stare me right in the face laughing at me. But this is a gift in disguise. I find that I can use that painful moment of failure as fuel. Enough fuel to design a new minimum standard. An unbreakable standard. The kind of standard that is non-negotiable. I won't eat, I won't sleep, I won't stop until that standard is satisfied. I will claw my way through a steel barricade to meet that standard and the only way to stop me is to kill me.
This is the runner you see in the morning. Out at 5 a.m. every single day of the year with no holiday.
This is the musician you hear on the radio. Who spent every cent and waking moment they had and to perfect their craft.
This is the entrepreneur you read about online. Who failed over and over again until they finally made a wildly profitable business.
This is the immigrant. The parent of that friend you look up to. That risked everything just to give their family a chance.
These are people operating on their LOWEST STANDARD.
People, like you and me, who will not accept anything less. Not if my family says to. Not if they offer me a million dollars. Not if they have a gun pointed at my head.
When you take your goal, and change it from a goal into your lowest standard. That is when you no longer fall behind. That is when you succeed.
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