When I was younger, I struggled with “perfection.” Oh, I expect that it sounds like a crazy thought process. I mean, who can be perfect, right? I know. Nevertheless, I set a high bar for myself. When I was young and I achieved good grades in school, I was praised for achieving good grades. So, I made sure to continue that process. As I grew up, this success translated into a greater desire. If I could obtain good grades, why not take it to the next level? I wanted to be some kind of Superhero of Awareness and Efficiency. But I could not do it. I realize that it is no big surprise to you probably, but I had difficulty getting past this. To me, I had to “settle for less” than what I wanted to be. To me, I was settling for the “A” word. I love to do calculations to figure out the A word, but that is not how I want to describe my life. The A word is insulting to a person who is out to conquer the world. If you haven’t figured it out, the A word is average.

This really struck home one day when listening to a sermon and a story. A group of students were asked whether as students, they considered themselves below average, average, or above average? Over 70 percent of students graded themselves above average. A similar question was posed to a group of teachers—as a teacher, are you below average, average, or above average? Of the teachers, some 80 percent thought they were above average. And finally, a similar question was given to pastors—as a pastor, do you consider yourself below average, average, or above average? Over 90 percent of pastors responded with above average. My point is that most people do not consider themselves to be average. (What is your answer to the appropriate question?)

Let’s compare this to when someone asks, how’s your day going? What is your typical response? In my experience most respond with “fine” or “good.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with these responses, but they don’t reflect anything more than “average.” When my answer is “fine” or “good,” I feel that I am not “seizing the day” so that my response may be something more. I must claim “average.” My aim is to step out for something beyond the typical and achieve it. When I do, I then give myself permission to say, “My day is great! And How is yours?”

Life happens. No matter where we hide, it finds us. So, it’s best to face it head-on. We handle what we can control—and that is only one person (ourselves). We each stand in our own little circle of control. We have influence outside of that little circle, but no control. So, we control who we can and take it one step at a time. I still want to change the world, so I have to start by changing me. I don’t accept average because I have more potential inside of me. I want to give more to the world. I’m unlocking my potential through intentionality and awareness. Join me on the journey.

Before we can lead others, we have to lead ourselves.

—John Maxwell

Your “Thinking Partner,”

Brian

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