- Thoughts for inspired living

February 24, 2010


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 10:08 am

I am in awe of people who have skills I don’t own.

When I watch the Olympics, I get treated to athletes of all stripes with skills I will never have.

When I watch the DIY (Do IT Yourself) Network on TV, I witness people with all sorts of mechanical skills I can only dream about.

When I read an article online about someone who has invented something that’s just mind-blowing, I, again, am reminded of gifts I don’t have.

That seems to be our collective obsession – focusing on what we don’t have.

Now for some, that’s a motivational strategy to go get what they want. For most, however, it’s a blueprint to stay stuck.

We get locked into comparing ourselves to cream of the crop or airbrushed examples and pooh-pooh our own skills.

The lack of appreciation for our current skill set is what keeps people from taking the next step towards improved skills.

Reminds me of a story . . .

Many years ago I went to a management seminar and got a terrific piece of advice. The group leader was asking us to assess the skills of the people who worked for us on a scale of 1 to 10. He said if a person was a 5 or under, we should consider replacing them, but then offered this piece of wisdom. Regardless of where the person scored on our scale, the initial goal was not to get them to 10. If they scored a 6, the goal was to get them to a 7, not 10, not now.

How often do we aspire to be a 10 when we’re only a 5? That breeds frustration because of our lack of appreciation of where we are.

If you can accurately assess where you are, you have a much better chance of getting to where you want to go as long as you don’t expect to “leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Progress begins when you accept where you currently are. If you diminish your current skill set, it’s hard to get started.

Everyone has skills but we have been conditioned to discount them if they’re not comparable to the leading people or where we want them to be.

We may never get to a 10 but that doesn’t keep us from progressing if we’re moving towards the next number. This is not a strategy to lower your expectations; it’s a strategy to overcome inertia.

Reminds me of a strategy I offer for exercise at my seminars . . .

Most people who are overweight don’t exercise on a regular basis. They may join a gym or get a piece of home exercise equipment but the membership goes unused and the home gear becomes what I call an “exercise dust bunny.”

What people do is shoot for a 10 when they’re at a 3. It’s the American Way.

What I recommend is to begin so slowly that it feels like you are doing nothing. For example, I ask someone who is not exercising if there is a telephone pole near their house and they usually say “Yes.” I then ask how far it is from their front door. They guesstimate the distance and then I ask if they would have any difficulty walking to the pole and back. The answer is usually “No.”

I then say, “There’s your exercise program. For the next 7 days, hell or high water, you are going to walk to that pole and back everyday.” They scoff and ask, “How is that going to be helpful?” I respond that for the succeeding next 7 days they are to walk to the telephone pole further down the block, and then for the next 7 days, they are to walk to the one that is 3 blocks away. By the time a month goes by they have a full blown exercise program that only feels like they are walking to the telephone pole and back.

The key to beginning an exercise program and staying with it is to begin so slowly that you can easily replicate it without much effort and then increase the amount at regular intervals. If a teenage boy picked up a newborn calf around his neck everyday, he would not notice the weight increase when it became a full grown cow.

The key to getting into a progressive mindset is to assess your skills rather than diminish them. After assessment, your job is to fashion a strategy to get to the next number. That is your only goal.

Your current strategy is doomed to failure if you’ve given yourself an unreachable goal based on your current skills. When you do the little things with regularity, the big things take care of themselves.

The only obstacle to following this strategy is lack of patience. Most have never noticed what a lack of patience has gotten them so far – lots of starts and stops instead of perfecting their chops.

Assess your skills today and only shoot for the next number, then you’ll be on your way.

All the best,



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