Swing for the Fence

Imagine you’re on a baseball team and it’s your turn to bat.  You’ve been practicing at the batting cage, and you’ve become quite good; not to mention, you enjoy batting.  Could you imagine saying to your coach, “You know what, Coach?  I don’t know if I’m ready for this.  What if I strike out?  I think I’ll skip my turn and go back to the comfort and security of the batting cage and let someone else bat instead.”

That would be ridiculous, right?  Who would do that?!

I would argue that we may be guilty of doing something similar when we doubt or play down our abilities in the face of opportunities that would grow and stretch us out of our comfort zone.

It’s easy to wish for opportunity, or even seek it out, in the comfort of the daily routine.  However, when an opportunity actually presents itself, we often begin doubting our abilities and whether we’re really capable of being successful.  We wonder if we are capable of rising to the challenge, or if maybe we’re really not as good as we, or others, might think.

It’s totally normal to have some doubts or be nervous about taking on a new and challenging opportunity.  However, what’s tragic is when we decide not to pursue an opportunity we’re capable of either out of fear of failing or because we doubt our own proven skills and ability.

I heard a quote recently that stated:

“In 20 years we won’t be disappointed by the things we did to; we’ll be most disappointed by the things we didn’t do.”

The next time you’re presented with an opportunity that will stretch you and your abilities, grab your bat, step up to the plate, and swing for the fence!  Take the risk.  Step out of your comfort zone and into the challenge, and give it your best shot.  And if you happen to fail, which you most likely will NOT, at least you’ll go down swinging.

Always remember: No Grand Slam home runs have ever been hit from the safety and security of the batting cage.

We All Respond Different

My wife’s dad just passed away today (13-Mar-15) after just short of 7 years on dialysis.  Her father wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so it’s been fascinating to see how people are responding, based on their experiences and perspectives.

It reminds me that we don’t all see the world the same way.  Our views are shaped by our unique experiences and perceptions.  Since no 2 people have the exact same experiences in life, it makes sense that people often have differing views.

I think we can get into trouble when we believe that our view, based on our own personal experience, is the only way to view a person or situation.  If we’re not careful, we can do great damage to our relationships by trying to convince others that their perspective is wrong, and that we know, better than they do, how they should think and feel.   We clearly don’t, and it would be arrogant of us to think otherwise.

The next time you’re in a situation where people have perspectives that differ from yours, realize that that’s ok.  Not everyone will feel the same way you do about a topic or person, so allow people respond or have their own opinion, even if it’s different from your own.  Who knows, you might gain a whole new perspective that changes your thinking.

Zig Was Right

You can get anything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.

~ Zig Ziglar

This is a classic quote from legendary speaker Zig Ziglar that I have been aware of for several years.  While I have always understood what Zig was saying in this quote, I never really got it until this week, when I was awarded my first voice over job.

The experience was an “ah-ha” moment for me.  I wasn’t awarded the job because I had a better voice than anyone else who auditioned.  (I’m not bad, but I’m no Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones!)  The reason I was selected for this job is because I was helpful to the client.

The audition notes stated that the client would be open to suggestions for improving the script.  Since they asked, I made some changes to the script, which caused it to read better, without changing the spirit of their message, and submitted my audition.  When I was awarded the job, the client mentioned they liked that I had taken the time to make changes to the script and liked how it now read.  It felt good to be awarded the job, but it felt even better to know that I added value to the client’s project.  I felt good knowing that I had helped them.

This experience reminded me of Zig’s quote and the truth behind the principle of being helpful and useful to others first, rather than first seeking what we want and what we can get for ourselves.

Where in your life do you have opportunities to be helpful to others?  I’m not talking being helpful in a manipulative way, where you expect something in return.  I’m talking about offering your skills and talent to others to help them with their struggles and challenges.  Begin looking for opportunities to be helpful to those around you.  Not only will it make you feel good and benefit those you’re helping, you’ll most likely find that others will be eager to help you get what you want as well.

Set Your Own Standard

Have you ever found yourself in an environment where mediocrity appears to be the standard?  Where people have set low standards for themselves and others, and show no sign of wanting to improve.  I have.  I have also noticed that if I’m not careful, this type of environment can begin to have a negative effect on my own standards as well.

In an environment where low standards have been set, it’s easy to get frustrated and feel like throwing our hands in the air and give up trying to make a difference.  At the very worst, we may even wonder if it’s worth it to try to uphold our own high standards when no one else is doing so.  Whenever this feeling arises, it’s imperative to remember that we are responsible for setting our own standards.  Letting others set standards for us takes control to direct our lives out of our hands and places it in someone else’s.  We should be the ones setting our standards of responsibility, accountability, and work ethic.  We should set them high and never allow others with lower standard to adjust them for us.

The next time you’re frustrated by an environment of mediocrity and feel like giving in to, or accepting the lower standard, do the following:

  • Commit to setting and maintaining the high standard of excellence you’ve set for yourself, regardless of the lower standards others have set themselves.
  • Where possible, limit your exposure to individuals and groups with a mindset of mediocrity.
  • Make a change. Whether it’s your workplace or a civic or social community with a standard of mediocrity, consider making a change.  We have tremendous freedom to decide where and with whom we spend our time.  Let’s take advantage of that freedom.

Setteling for mediocrity in one area of life is a dangerous slope that makes it easier to compromise standards in other areas.  Be mindful of mediocrity and decide in advance to be the one who sets your own standard.  It’s a great privilege and responsibility that shouldn’t be handed over to others.