What scares you more; failure or mediocrity?

“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”

Bruce Lee

What I like about this quote is that it puts the focus on the fear of failure. It is the fear of failure that is our real enemy. Never trying something because you might fail or setting low expectations to ensure you don’t fail is a dangerous precedent to develop in your life.  

Consider this; failure might be the best possible thing that EVER happens to you because it becomes the catalyst event for further learning and growth. When attempting something great, failing might be the very thing that propels you forward to something even better. Not having the ability to stretch and risk failure is a recipe for perpetual mediocrity.

Would you rather set great expectations and fail, or low expectations and achieve them? 

Exceed yourself…

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

Bruce Lee

Is it more important for you to live up to your own expectations or someone else’s? Or, said another way, would you intentionally choose to miss meeting your own expectations, but achieve someone else’s?

I don’t know about you, but I have higher expectations of and for myself than anyone else could set for me. Of course, the flip side of this is that I can’t hold anyone else accountable for the standards that I set for myself. That would be unfair as we all have unique and special gifts. Hopefully, your expectations are set based on maximizing every single ounce of your potential and not a drop less.

As I reflect on this I am reminded of this verse from Matthew. ‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? ‘ Matthew 16:26

Basing your measures of success on the expectations of others is a false victory. What good is it if you meet the expectations of others yet fail to be the person that you were truly created to become? Instead, turn inward and seek to maximize every possible bit of the gifts and talents you have been given. Constantly seek to exceed your expectations and you will find that there is no one else that can push you harder than you can push yourself.

photo of man doing push ups using yellow kettlebell
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Set your own bar…

“‎Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.”

Henry Ward Beecher

If your most difficult master to please is yourself then disappointing others should be the least of your worries. It amazes me how much time people spending worrying about what others think instead of holding themselves to a higher standard.

The challenge becomes learning not to transfer that same high standard to everyone else around you. But then an inverse of the sentence above applies. Instead of worrying about the standards others have for themselves lead by the example you set for yourself.

Set your bar, exceed that bar, raise the bar and do it again. Don’t waste time worrying about the standards others set for you, they won’t set them high enough…

Fact or perception?

“You might not always get what you want, but you always get what you expect.”

Charles Spurgeon

What do you expect from your day? Your relationships? Your life? Whatever it is that you expect, then that is what you will see. Your expectations become the “truths” that you perceive in the world.

Someone once told me “in the mind of the perceiver a perception is a fact.” This is such a vividly true statement and has helped me over the years to learn how to switch out of my own head and see things from a different perspective. In fact, this has likely been one of the most powerful mantras I have ever been gifted with.

The key here is that you learn to recognize that you don’t have to agree with another’s perception, just that from where they sit, what they perceive is reality. It is a fact, a statement of truth. When you learn to accept that another person sees the world differently, framed through the lens of their own expectations and experiences, it allows you to adjust your perspective and see new “truths” that you might otherwise not be open to seeing.

The key to growth, and achieving the life that you want, is to learn to tune your expectations. We are conditioned to see, and perceive, the world through a lens of experiences and expectations. When you realize that what you see might not be “true” at all, but could in fact just be a product of your own expectations, you free your mind for broader understanding.

If you want to tune your inner expectations and ensure that you are achieving all that God put you on this earth to accomplish then building an ability to get outside of your own skin and see the world through different lenses is critical.

I have lyrics for the The Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” stuck in my head:

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, you get what you need.”

How do your expectations need to change so you can truly discover what it is that you want?

Your choice…

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”

Joyce Meyer

The life that we have and lead is based on how we choose to see and interpret the world. I know people who are exceptionally blessed, yet they are always waiting for the other shoe to fall. They are always finding the bad things and focusing on those instead of the positive. I am sure that you know people who are like this as well. They can’t seem to find the good in anything or anyone. That is a choice that they make and that is the life that they choose to live.

Let’s be real. Life isn’t always fair. Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes really bad things do happen. But how we choose to act, and react, to anything that happens is what defines the type of life that we have.

I love this quote from Eeyore.

It truly does never hurt to keep looking for the sunshine. Because it will come, if we choose to seek it out. As I reflect on today’s quote these other thoughts come to mind that reinforce the power of Joyce’s words. Chew on these and see what comes to mind for you.

You cannot have a negative life and a positive mind.

You cannot have a positive life and negative friends.

You cannot live the life you were created to live with a negative mind.

Every day when we wake up we have a choice about what kind of day it is going to be. Every interaction we have with others is one where we can either see them through the lens of what we are getting from them, or we can choose to see it through the lens of what we are doing for them.

If we want to have a positive life, we have to have a positive mind. It simply won’t work any other way. It’s a choice. Make it wisely.

Plan your work, work your plan…

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”


If you want to run a marathon you don’t wake up on a Thursday morning and decide to go do run the race on Saturday. If you do you will not have a very good day! You have to set a goal, create a training plan, put in the effort day in and day out, and then you are ready to run the race. The same applies to anything else in life. If you aspire to something, you have to do the work to be ready for it. You have to do the training, whether that is mental, physical, or spiritual. You will then perform to the level of your training. If you don’t do the work, you can’t be disappointed if the results aren’t what you expected.

What are your expectations? What are things that you want to do or achieve? Have you created the training plan to make it happen? Are you doing the work?

Expectations vs. Recommendations.

“When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable — if there are no consequences — that poor performance becomes the new standard. Therefore, leaders must enforce standards.”

Jocko Willink

I have long held to a simple yet effective three step formula of leadership responsibility and accountability.  

  1. Set clear expectations
  2. Coach, Train, Provide Feedback to those expectations
  3. Hold accountable to the expectations

It is the leaders responsibility to ensure that his or her  team understands what is expected of them, that the proper coaching and training has occurred, and then that absolute accountability to those expectations has been enforced.  

Without enforcement then any expectations are merely recommendations, coaching and training is a waste of time, and accountability doesn’t mean anything…  

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