As published in the Express Woman Magazine October 17th 2010 as part of the Women In Leadership Series where Giselle Hudson and Dr. Marcia Reynolds explore the barriers that are still in the workplace and the world at large and help women confront their inner demons before they can find the peace they desperately seek. If they do this, their burdens can become joys and their restless spirits can become the passionate energy that helps them find, explore, and achieve their purposeful path.
Do you remember this (it was even part of a milk advertisement I believe) – ‘Good better best, never let it rest; till you make your good better, and your better best.’ This is all fine and dandy except how do we know what our best is? Have you ever been told that you’re not living out your full potential? Do you know what THAT is? Well, seeking the answer to these questions and striving to better whatever your last best was is what makes life interesting, exciting and worth living. We all need to practice raising the bar in our own lives in order to move forward, take next steps and grow. But how exactly do we do this consistently?
High jumpers literally raise the bar to challenge themselves to jump higher and higher. Not by feet at a time – but by inches – bit by bit. Every time a high jumper jumps they have to change. They are no longer the person jumping at X feet, they have to become the person capable of jumping at X feet Y inches. They have to recreate and rethink who they are. Their new goals cannot be based on what was done before. It is now based on perceptions of what is now possible.
If you want to raise the bar in your own life you must create a new model for yourself and set higher standards. We use the phrase “think out of the box” frequently but what does it really mean? It is used really to describe the process of getting out of old thought patterns into newer, more innovative thought patterns. To raise your own bar you must be willing to step outside yourself, and face your fears. You need to challenge yourself to not only think outside the box, but to live outside the box. This is not an intellectual exercise but one of application — applying and practicing all the principles that you have learned in all the motivational, team-building, seminars, and training sessions you’ve attended.
This saying is simple but true: ‘Water that stands still becomes stagnant and polluted because closed systems die.’ There’s a high when we set a goal and an even bigger high when we’ve achieved it but when we become afraid of not being able to repeat past performance then we become locked into a self-imposed box. You see this with the one hit wonders – one bestselling book, one hit song. If we wait on the world to tell us what is good and not good for us, if we get hooked on external approval we run a great risk of remaining stagnant and afraid to try anything new. Michael Jordan said that he failed a lot which made him so successful. Richard Branson had far more failures than successes but he really wasn’t waiting on the world to dictate what he should do first, second or third.
In raising our own bars, we must remember that we are bettering our last performance. Best for us should be about constant improvement not because we think we need to be fixed, but because we know deep within that there is so much more inside of us that we can offer the world. In a recent interview with JK Rowling Oprah was asking how she felt about bringing Harry Potter to a close. She in turn asked Oprah about winding up her show and completing her final season. I remember a similar question was asked of Elizabeth Gilbert about follow-up books after Eat, Pray and Love. The advice was simply “Stop thinking about how you’re going to top that…” Now this may seem counter to everything I’ve just said. But Oprah made an interesting point: She was only in control of her intentions. She had no idea how her show was going to evolve and the responses from viewers worldwide. And so I think that you have to manage what you’re focusing on to better yourself. If, for example, Oprah’s next venture doesn’t manifest as her show did does that mean that she got worse? The measurement of your bettering your last best remains a personal one and based on your values and the goals that you set for yourself.
If you’re not happy or not finding joy in your work, then perhaps “there’s something missing.” Sure, aspiring for the things that money can buy can be a driving force in our productive efforts. After all according to the rich businessman – “I’ve lived without money and I’ve lived with money and money certainly makes things easier”. Let’s face it — it’s great to not have to worry about paying the bills or buying something for your family or yourself. But ‘what’s missing’ is that feeling of challenge and stimulation while earning that money. It’s wonderful to have a sense of purpose, to push beyond the confines of your self-imposed box so that at the end of the day you can declare, “That was the greatest version of me today and I look forward to being better tomorrow!”
Giselle Hudson is a speaker, author, and master mind coach™, planting possibility seeds and unleashing the greatness in people who’ve never seen the greatness in themselves. If you want to learn more about the ideas written in this article or would like the FREE report “Standing at the Junction – How to Become your ‘Next’ Self”, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org