Should You Lower Your Expectations?

I was listening to a compilation of motivational speeches this week (yes, even those of us who endeavor to inspire others have to get our daily dose of encouragement) and, as often happens when I listen to other people's ideas, a spark of inspiration will strike. Two or more ideas will come together to be worth more than the sum of their parts, which is exactly what happened this week!

One of these moments was hearing Les Brown talk about how anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. The other was hearing Jordan Peterson discuss the biochemistry that is involved in success.

As I sat and thought about what these two very learned men had said, it hit me that yes, it is good to shoot for the stars, but only in small steps!

Success, even in small bits will actually change the chemistry of your body. It affects everything from your mood to your posture. Not only does success boost how you see yourself, but how others view you.

By the same token, failure, perceived or real, has a reverse effect. When you try to accomplish too much, too well, too fast, any failure to achieve the desired goal causes you to tear yourself down. The results of this are often depression and a change in your body language which may mark you as a loser to the world.

As crazy as it may sound coming from someone who spends their life advising people on how to excel in life, the one secret could be that you need to lower your expectations.

We are all taught from an early age that anything worth doing is worth doing right, but that is kind of a crazy idea. A better way of thinking is that anything worth doing is worth giving your best.

Think about it: Do you believe that when LeBron James first picked up a basketball that he was draining 30 footers? Do you think when Oprah did her first interview, she was all smooth and polished? Do you imagine when I gave my first speech, I had the same confidence that I have now? (Trust me, I didn't. I have been managing a speech impediment since the first-grade in school)

It is not realistic that any of us go into anything expecting perfection or that we would actually be really good at things we have never done before, and doing so will lay the seeds of our own demise. The resulting disappointment can lead to changes in our mental, emotional, and physical states that might stop us in our tracks.

My challenge for you this week:

Practice taking the small steps that lead to major accomplishments.

  • Write down a major goal you will work to achieve.

  • Write down the small steps you will commit to taking for the next four weeks that will move you closer to your major goal.

  • Celebrate those small step accomplishments once achieved. The celebration should be memorable, but not self-destructive!

Reach for the heavens but keep in mind that every journey is made one step at a time.

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