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.
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.
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.