Why “Under-promise and Over-deliver” is a Terrible Strategy
Happy New Year! I hope you had a chance to relax with family and friends over the holidays. Perhaps you pondered the possibilities the New Year brings, and are you ready to go out there and make extraordinary things happen in 2016. (Check out my New Year’s resolutions post with the 9 simple tips I offer to fail-proof your resolutions if you haven't already).
I'd urge you to heed the words in the subtitle of my book, The Transformative Leader, and make this the year when you Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary! I believe that in order to do so, you must beat the odds and ignore conventional wisdom. Afterall, a lot of what we are taught about success is more focused on helping us survive, rather than thrive, and our own internal dialogue constantly reinforces it. Have you ever noticed that the little voice in your head (that, by the way, is always talking to you) is never encouraging you to go for the gusto and is always reminding you of all the bad things that have ever happened, and could happen again, if you set an audacious goal? Has anyone ever advised you to "under-promise and over-deliver?" All of these conversations, internal or external, are aimed at you playing it safe and playing small, and they rob you of the joy of designing and living an extraordinary life.
Unfortunately many of us go through our lives making sure we don’t get overly excited about a goal that we might not be able to achieve, or a target we may fail to hit. In my book, I tell a story about a group of friends who were taking an overnight ride on a train equipped with a fully stocked bar, great music and a dance floor. As they were having a great time, one of them noticed that one of their friends was just sitting in the corner, deep in thought. He approached him and asked why he wasn’t joining the festivities. The poor, sad fellow proceeded to tell his friend that he owed somebody $5,000, and that he was going to be waiting for him when he got off the train the next day to beat him up if he didn’t pay up. The friend immediately offered to pay the guy’s debt and assured him that all was going to be well. Once the shock and disbelief wore off, the sad fellow got up, thanked his friend, and joined the party. They had a great time, and when they arrived at their destination, the guy who owed the money went up to his friend to collect the cash to pay off his debt. As he was thanking his friend profusely for this huge favor, he was informed by his friend that he didn’t actually have the money. In deep fear and anguish, the guy asked, “Why did you say you were going to pay them off if you didn’t have the money?” to which the friend responded, “I knew you were going to get beat up, so I figured you might as well have a good time on the way!”
You may not find this story very energizing, but the moral of the story is what I am focusing on. Setting your sights on an exciting outcome completely transforms the quality of your journey, whether you actually achieve it or not, and you are a heck of a lot more likely to shift the trajectory of your progress if you are energized by the possibility of “what could be” than if you dwell on more of the same... The very thought of a possible future transforms our experience in the moment. When we know the future is bright, we can put up with all kinds of adversity as our faith in that desired future empowers us to be creative, resourceful, and enthusiastic along the way.
In the words of Michelangelo, “The danger is not that we aim too high and we miss, but that we aim too low and we hit!” You get to make the choice every day, and unless you make a deliberate choice to play a big game, the default path of least resistance will always be right in front of you. So, why not let your imagination, not your memories, define what’s possible for you, your team, your family, and your community? Why not step out in faith to not only go for some outcome in the future but transform the quality of your career or your life in this moment?
You may be hesitant to make a bold declaration because you have done so in the past and failed to follow through, and you don’t know if you will this time or not. You may have been ridiculed for your lofty goals. Consider that all of your reasons are deeply rooted in your past experiences, and while it is wise to let the past inform you, you cannot drive forward with your eyes fixated on the rear view mirror.
If you are someone who needs a little reassurance that you have some idea of how you are going to go about achieving your goal before you declare it far and wide, I’d like to give you a gift that I call “The Transformation Blueprint.” If you are on the fence about giving the idea of going for something extraordinary a shot and are curious as to how this tool might help you, I’d encourage you to download the form by clicking the button below, and spend a few minutes to layout the blueprint for the transformation you are going to cause for yourself and/or your team, family, or community. I assure you this will be a few minutes well spent as it will have a profound impact on the path you will take in the coming year.
As always, I would love to hear about your victories and/or challenges. I wish you the very best as you set out to make this year of your life the best yet!
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