How much are you personally worth? How much do you value your skills? The answer for many of us is not much. This applies to our working life, our career and our relationships. But why? Why do we set the bar so low? Who taught us to restrict our ambitions before we even get going? And what can we do about it?!
Aiming low is a personality trait and an ingrained habit pure and simple, and it can be changed. If you can quit a habit like drinking or smoking, then you can quit aiming low.
Why don’t we?
First, lets acknowledge what the root causes are. Did you ever hear the story of the flea circus? It was one of my most memorable childhood stories. It begins with a man who keeps a set of tiny black fleas in a tiny glass box, he keeps these fleas in this box day and night. They jump and jump but can never get any height, and over time these fleas learn that they can only jump so high. No matter how hard they try, the flea cannot go higher, so it learns not to try anymore. Now the flea keeper; he is a part of the circus, and he has a special but tiny act – his fleas! He lifts off the tiny glass box’s lid to show off his fleas. To the audiences amazement they hop up and down but never out of their home – not because the can’t – because they have the ability to jump right out from their box and escape – but because they just don’t believe it is possible; instead they just hop up and down the same height, time after time, acting in their circus, never escaping, never trying, but comfortable in doing what they already do best.
Aiming high or selling yourself short?
You too are trained in just this way. As you grow you are also restricted, restricted from reality. You live inside a box, too, but this box is called your beliefs. People around you shape your beliefs for better or worse. In childhood most of us are on the receiving end of the ‘worse’ but why? Normally it’s for our own good! We’re told we can’t climb on the window (for fear of injury), we can’t play until we’ve done our homework (good in one sense), but we can’t have what we want until we have followed the rules – we learn the habit of delaying our dreams. In terms of ambition, we think, as adults, that we have to qualify for a job role before we apply. We think we’re not good enough until we have taken another qualification. But is this right?
Our beliefs about what is possible quickly become our beliefs about what isn’t. Sadly, what we ‘cannot’ combines with ‘not yet being ready’ and also a sense of familiar comfort that comes from not ‘going too far’ just in case something bad happens. It is these, these learned restrictions, which box us in the most. We may be free, but our minds are locked. But is there a key? Can they be freed too?
Aiming high for the sky
Worthy goals, in both your life and career should always be set beyond the boundaries of your current thinking. They should seem scary, if not rather unrealistic to you, so much so that only a much better, more qualified, ambitious you could EVER hope to achieve such goals. If you are not striving for better – for better pay, better life conditions, better health and better relationships, then you’ll just stay stuck where you are. You will stay in your ‘box’, hitting your head on the imaginary ceiling which you have set yourself, and never knowing that there’s a whole world out there – a world much more amazing and full of possibilities – available to you, should you only have the courage to become your potential.
So the question remains, what can we do about it?
Well it’s simple… Aiming high is not about trying something new, it’s fundamentally about believing something new.
It’s about recalibrating what you think is possible – and how you do this is up to you, but it comes from raising your standards. It comes from doing things that aren’t you but ARE the new you until you start to believe in yourself MORE and KNOW that you are capable of more.
Mostly though, it’s about jumping straight into the deep end, under prepared and overwhelmed – with you mind-set being, “It’s better to experience life OUTSIDE of this box, than to regret never (B)leaving it.”
Next time you want a new job, to change tack or even work for yourself, don’t let qualifications, fear, or limiting beliefs hold you down. Drag yourself back up and break out of your box by becoming someone who sees life as an adventure, not a repetition. Do something different… TODAY.
Aim high, and Sell well