Sometimes, when I visit my stats for the day, I feel disappointed. After all, I am expecting to see some kind of increase. More effort should produce more/better results and, in the final analysis, that should translate to the bottom line in my way of thinking. But it doesn’t always pan out that way.
For the past six months, I have really concentrated most of my effort on blogging. The first five months of that effort really paid off in terms of increased Adsense revenue. However, the current month is looking like it is going to finish up producing less revenue than each of the previous three, despite the fact that I have been increasing my effort – that is somewhat disappointing.
Now, I have a little site that I go to when I feel this way. It is full of motivational videos and I particularly like watching the Facing the Giants video. I don’t know how many times I have watched that clip, but it always has the same effect on me. Of course, there is the obvious message i.e. not to quit. But there is also something else that I find very powerful about it; it is the idea that it may not be good enough to do what you think is enough.
There are often external measures of what is necessary to succeed within some situation and they are usually dictated, influenced or even set by the organisational norms or the published opinions of industry leaders. When we are complying with those norms, whatever they may be, we are usually quite happy with our own performance, especially if achieving that benchmark is difficult.
In any competitive situation winners, by definition, manage to go the extra distance. They do better than those around them. Sometimes, the extra effort that is required is astonishingly little because we may reach a tipping point; sometimes, it is a question of being just a nose in front of the competition. But winners always manage to go the extra distance.
What this video illustrates, for me, is that sometimes, we need to ‘forget’ those external benchmarks and, instead, concentrate on giving our best – our absolute best. That means that we don’t quit when there is still gas in the tank. Instead, we keep going until we cannot give any more – that, I believe, is the attitude of winners; that’s the mentality that can put them a nose in front.
So whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, provided you have done the necessary spade-work of setting your goals and then breaking them down into specific tasks, I would bet that you have some kind of yardstick by which you measure daily effort. The question is: how far short of your personal best is that benchmark?
Now, I am conscious of the fact that some people may misinterpret this post and perhaps, in response, say something like: you need rest to avoid burn-out, or there is more to life than working, or there is no point killing yourself trying to achieve success. And all of that is undoubtedly true. In order to function effectively and do your best work, you certainly do need to take proper breaks away from your work, take proper rest and allow your brain to consolidate and learn.
But, that is not what this post is about. In the first instance, we are considering how we are measuring our own efforts – by what benchmark – and then, moving on to ask ourselves if we believe we are capable of more. However, I would like to take the discussion a step further and you can really only do this when you have a clear idea of what you think is your absolute best.
In the video, Brock thinks his absolute best is to get to the fifty yard line (without carrying another player). By getting him to do the exercise blindfolded, the coach ensures that all external measures of success (he cannot see the lines on the pitch) are absent. With encouragement, Brock manages to achieve what the coach thinks he is capable of doing i.e. carrying a 140 pound man the entire length of the pitch. It is only then that the coach finds out that Brock has actually managed to carry a 160 pound man that distance – even managing to outperform the coach’s expectations.
The point is that what you think is your absolute best could easily be as far out as Brock’s assessment and you will never manage to break through your current level of performance and reach the next level until you can first believe you can do it. That, of course, is the subject of a lot of the coaching programs that we find everywhere in the field of self improvement i.e. changing your beliefs about what you think is possible for yourself.
In order to succeed at anything, we must first ‘see’ ourselves as being capable of achieving the goal. That principle is indeed the cornerstone of modern sports psychology. So working on changing your own belief about what is possible for you is certainly something you might wish to consider and it is indeed a worthwhile activity. However, in this simple clip we have a wonderful illustration, not only of what might be possible for us, but also of what it takes to get there.
When we can learn to ignore those external references and instead, focus on ourselves and what we are capable of, when we can always say that we gave everything we did our best shot – not what other people think is our best shot, not what perhaps we ourselves think, but our absolute best, then success cannot continue to elude us.
So, perhaps, like me, you may be feeling a little discouraged. If so, I recommend a daily dose of that video until the symptoms go away. Watch it and let the message sink in: you are more than you think and you are capable of much more than you think. Forget how the people around you are measuring success and concentrate instead on giving your major goals your absolute best.