This is an excerpt from the rough draft version of my upcoming book.
You promised yourself as a child that you would have an extraordinary life. You may not remember it, but as a child you were not limited by considerations of “practicality” or “being realistic” – you saw something you wanted, and imagined having it yourself and that was all there was to it. It took active effort by others to get you to stop dreaming and thinking big. But the promise you made to yourself remains. And you owe it to your inner child to account for why you have failed to deliver on the promise, and explore the possibility of finally making good on the promise. Not just to keep your commitment to yourself, but also to live an extraordinary life that meets or exceeds the expectations you had as a child. Imagine what life would be like, if you simply had a vision as a child of bigger than life experiences and amenities based on what you saw and wanted to have, and after a period of finding yourself, finally arriving at that destination, and celebrating that happily ever after feeling. This is not just fantasy – it really can be your future.
Another reason you will not want to live out the rest of your life in mediocrity is the end of life regret factor. Do you really want to find yourself in the future in you death bed, surrounded by family, feeling a sense of regret that you led a mediocre life where you dreams stagnated and your gifts remained unshared with the world? At the end of life, we are not going to regret having spent insufficient time watching television or even spending insufficient time with family. But we would regret not having made a sincere effort at developing and sharing our inner talents and gifts with the world in a meaningful way, when we have awareness that we have something to share, and we keep putting it off. Putting it off because… well, there are a thousand different ways to dress up procrastination. It amounts to waiting for the right moment to “get around to it” and never finding that moment. And filling life with meaningless to semi-meaningful activities, which feel empty when compared to living our dreams.
Above all, it’s a wonderful feeling to celebrate our wins, to achieve incremental steps towards what we deeply desire, and to simply smile about them. As we build the list of wins in life, we experience life as a series of wins worth celebrating, and each win becomes easier and easier as we gain momentum and the habit of being a winner. We get to the point of simply setting our minds on what we want, and we find ourselves getting it almost on auto-pilot, because we have set up our minds to deliver what we want. It all starts with the simple realization that anything you ever dreamed you wanted, or can ever dream, you can have it all. All it takes is recognizing we are beings of immense power and potential, and nothing is out of our reach if, as Napoeon Hill said, bring ourselves to imagine it and believe in it. This book is not about mediocrity or boring technical check lists. It is about achieving your dreams, in a way not quite how you would have expected.
Let’s dig a little deeper. You do not want to let yourself down most importantly because it is a matter of integrity. Integrity is about being a person who follows through on a commitment. When we make a commitment or a promise, and we go back on it, we not only damage our relationship with others – more crucially, we damage our trust in ourselves. When we cannot trust ourselves at a basic level, what are the chances of achieving long-lasting and happy success? Not very high at all. It is important to maintain integrity in everything we promise ourselves, including what we promised ourselves as a child. If we cannot meet the commitment, we can at least give it a sincere effort. To give something your best shot, even if you do not arrive at a goal, is still in integrity. Only in the rare case you discover meeting a commitment would interfere with more important values, does it make sense to formally de-commit. For example if you had a dream of being a world dictator and later developed a sense of ethics around how governments should be run, which leaves no space for a dictator, it would be appropriate to de-commit from the world dictator childhood dream. It may seem silly, but these kinds of dreams are not all that uncommon.
Another reason you do not want to sell yourself short is that people are counting on you. You have people in your life, e.g., family, friends, employees, vendors, customers, who all have developed trust in you, whether the express it or not, and they want to see you able to follow through on things for which they count on you. It is a horrible feeling to allow people to count on us, and to let them down, no matter how good the excuse why we let them down. It feels far better to set a high expectation by demonstrating our character to people in our lives, then wildly exceed those expectations, because we are actually that awesome. When we take on this kind of mindset about people who count on us, the experience of life becomes more about willingness to serve and to delight people, and not at all about feeling like a dead-bean debtor who can never quite pay off all the promises we made along the way. For this reason alone, you want to realize your maximum potential.