Be Average, But Start Today

It’s time to shoot for sea level. Become mediocre at something. Try to lift seven pounds over your head. Eat at least one vegetable per week. You can do it!

And that’s the point. You can do it.

How many times have you psyched yourself out of a great opportunity because you doubted your ability to do it well the first time? I’m willing to guess 63 times, but that’s just because I’m willing to guess, not because I think I’m good at it.

Projecting Ruins Opportunity

I have an atrocious habit called projecting. It’s possible you do it too, because it is common. The worst part? It’s masked as a positive, “prudent” activity.

Projecting is taking a scenario and looking into possible end results. You’re “projecting” what could happen in 5, 10, 50 years if you take the current path. Again, this sounds prudent, but let’s analyze the pitfalls.

The first problem is that the projection is always a distortion of what would really happen. Just recently I went kayaking in Biscayne Bay. I was told of the creatures I might see: silver fish, sea turtles, stingrays, nurse sharks, and dolphins if I’m lucky. Excellent! So as I contemplated shelling out $15 (ocean puns are good) to rent a kayak, I projected that my experience of seeing sea life would be worth the money.


I kayaked well out into the bay. When my sea journey was finished, I recalled all the creatures I saw. It was just one – a sunken beer can. I don’t even like Heineken.

BUT I was not disappointed with my decision, because I enjoyed the kayaking experience itself. Had I known I would see zero living sea dwellers, I doubt I would have done it. That would have been a mistake as it was still a fun, albeit “lifeless” adventure!

My projection was wrong about the sea life and wrong about my level of enjoyment in that scenario.

Projecting is so dangerous because it takes the place of actually experimenting and living. Projections are unreliable, and you can miss out on life’s finest offerings by trusting your expected outcome over experience.

Just think, there are people right now projecting out supposedly unsuccessful scenarios as they watch TV. They justify their inaction with lies.

Projection Miscalculations

Since projection is mental, it can carry expectations greater or less than reality. Only experience gives an accurate portrayal of life, though no two experiences are exactly alike. It is impossible to predict the variables that will change the course of a situation, making projections even less accurate.

Meet Jim.

Jim is a 43 year old man with a large gut from drinking Heinekens in Biscayne Bay. He’s thinking about starting a workout program, so he considers different workout regimens and their results. Being 125 pounds overweight, he is discouraged at how ineffective his best conceived workout program projected would be over a period of two years.

Jim is being realistic with good reasons for concern, but he fails to account for two critical catalysts – improvement over time and unexpected variables.

Discouraged by his flat projection, he decides to put his weight loss plans on hold until he can come up with a more effective fat-burning regimen. A year passes and he gains 15 more pounds. He gains a few new ideas that could help his plan if he ever starts. But still, he waits so he can afford better supplements and wants to see about some promising, potentially ground-breaking research on weight-loss. But alas, another year passes, and another 20 pounds is added to his tab.

Jim has fallen victim to perfection projection. His standards for efficacy are too high. No current weight loss program is healthy enough, fast enough, easy enough, or inexpensive enough for him to pull the trigger. If he can’t do it right, he isn’t going to try.

What Jim doesn’t see is what would have happened if he simply started with what he had.

At the gym on day 25, his bleak projection seems spot on. He has missed several days and lost just one pound so far on his inefficient program. But on this day, he would have met Paul, who happens to be a weight-loss expert with the very information Jim needs to take things to the next level.

In the next month with Paul’s help, Jim does considerably better. He has learned how his body reacts to different exercises, supplements, and foods. He’s learned what doesn’t work. His refinements result in 10 more pounds lost the next month.

In 2 years, Jim has lost all of his excess weight. Though he started slowly, he applied his experience and knowledge to increase his results with each new month. He’s a weight-loss expert now!

The Guinea Pig Difference

The winners in this world are the guinea pigs. Not literally. Those creatures are lame. But the people who find out through experience instead of projection learn the most critical lessons life has to teach.

Learning is only half of the benefit. Numerous skills are sure to be acquired through experimenting. Guinea pigs are the multi-lingual skiers who can make a delectable Massaman Curry dish. I can only do one of those (curry), so I have some work to do.

Success has never been only about talent, brains, or luck. Success, however you wish to define it, starts with a willingness to climb into a dark cave of mystery, even if you walk out of it with bruises. Imagining what’s inside the cave will never grant you the tremendous riches hidden inside.

Go ahead and be average, but start today… and tomorrow you’ll be great.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.


I have my own problems with projections. In the sales world or retail – sales tend to be up and down.

If you take a down day and project out, you will see a dismal future.

By the same token, if you take a very good day and start to plan as if every day will be like that, you will also have many problems.

Projections are something to be very careful with. Projecting potential problems in a multi million dollar project can be extremely value. But determining the direction of your life, as your stories clearly show would be a mistake!

I went kayaking off Vashon Island near Seattle once, I really enjoyed it. We did see a few birds and but no whales . Sometimes they see whales out there. I’m kind of glad, since I was in a kayak, not to have seen any!

Stephen Guise

Hey David,

Sales forecasts were the one area that projections seemed like a good idea, but I suppose the same issues can arise when your projections fail to account for the unexpected. I invest in Apple, and their projections for earnings are always SUPER conservative…they beat earnings guidance by an average of 30% I think. Maybe they understand the danger of predicting the future and undershoot it to be safe?

I like what you said about putting too much emphasis on a single day. There is so much variation from day to day. If you had a very bad day and used it for all kinds of projections, it could presumably ruin your life!

Oh man! It would have been amazing to see a whale! Now I want to do that. I wouldn’t be too scared of seeing a whale – they’re not very aggressive or dangerous. Though their massiveness alone would be frightening. Look at this picture though…this would be FREAKY….

Brian Lee

Recently in the past year I’ve learned the value of taking that first small step towards your goal. I too projected a lot. It usually had a negative outlook that prevented me from even trying. But many times, I surprised myself at how differently the outcome was to my original projection.

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