Are We Programmed For Mediocrity or Success?
I saw a video recently that made me think about how we really feel about success in our country. Do we still look at it as something to be admired and strive for, or do we look at it with a skeptical and resentful eye? Do we think like the late great Zig Ziglar, who said “You can have everything in life you want, IF you help enough people get what they want”, or do we think the successful took advantage of others.
I think it was Brian Tracy who said “We will never, on a consistent basis, earn more than we feel we are worth. You will always find a way to sabotage yourself to bring your income in line with your worth.” If that is true, which I think it is, we should really look at what our true feelings about success are and how we got them.
Take a look at pop culture, who are typically the good guys and who are usually the villains? From movies to comic books and even many who will misquote the Bible, the villains are normally a rich and successful business man that is portrayed to hurt the people. The hero is normally someone of meager beginnings who rise up to battle against the successful or powerful.
Perhaps the worst I have seen is this video that was produced by a California School Board. Now they claim it wasn’t for the students, but for the teachers. However, when you see the cartoon like way this video was done, I personally have trouble believing that.
The California School Board Video on Success
Is it any wonder that a person would struggle to become successful if they believe what this video says about success? Lets take a look at two accepted principles of success achievement and see how they compare with how a lot of us live our life and even what our kids are taught.
Does life program you for Mediocrity or Success?
Principle #1 Focus on becoming exceptional in one area
“Don’t focus on making your weaknesses average, instead focus on making your strengths exceptional. People won’t pay for average, but they will pay for exceptional! – John Maxwell
Is this what the world tells us? In school were you taught to find the one class that you are really good at, that you have a passion for and put your efforts to excel there? Or were we told we had to buckle down and work much harder in the area of our weakness so we could at least be average (C)?
What about in the working world? Have you ever heard people joke like this…”They pay me just enough for me not to quit, and I work just hard enough not to get fired”. Does this sound like a culture that is focusing on their strengths with a desire to become exceptional?
Isn’t it true that we are programmed that it is better to be average in many things, than to excel in a few things? Yet, this is the exact opposite from John Maxwell’s assertion above.
Principle 2: Failure is a necessary component of success
“If you want to succeed, double your rate of Failure” -Thomas Watson Former CEO of IBM
A great book “Go For No” actually teaches to strive for the no and to celebrate the no’s. It is those no’s that will lead to success. Ray Higdon in an interview with Eric Worre, two mentors I follow, attributed his rise from foreclosure to financial freedom on his goal to get 20 no’s in his business every single day.
Is that how most of us live our life? Is that what our kids are being taught in school? When I was a kid I was taught to fear failure, but I think today our kids are taught failure doesn’t exist. No one wins sporting events, papers are grading on completion and there is more emphasis on self esteem than accomplishment.
In the adult world we have unions that, in some cases, mandate the continued employment of undeserving workers. We have slowly become a nation that doesn’t think we have to earn what we have, we deserve it, so why risk failure.
This of course has no resemblance to the real world where Success can not exist without the possibility of failure and most of the time failure is a guaranteed passenger on the road to success.
There are countless other examples that I don’t have have time to go into, but if this is the problem what is the solution?
Personal Development is the key to move from Mediocrity to Success
The only way to overcome the negative programming we may be dealing with, is to replace it with positive programming. Darren Hardy, editor of Success Magazine, talks about your mind being like a glass of water and all the negative crap is like dirt in that water. It makes the water murky and disgusting, but if you put your glass under the tap and start putting fresh clean water in it, it will push the disgusting water out and if you do it enough the glass will be left with pure clean water.
The solution is simple:
- Turn away from anything that reinforces the negative programming (news, negative people, etc)
- Spend that time in personal development to create new thought patterns (good books, audio programs, seminars etc)
Until you are able to overcome that negative programming, achieving lasting success may be like trying to find the pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.
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