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Why Raising the Bar Doesn't Always Work

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"The secret of success: Get up early. Work late. Strike oil." - John D. Rockefeller

We always hear that we need to "raise the bar" to be more competitive and more successful. That term "Raise the bar" is a metaphor borrowed from the sports world, meaning to constantly strive for better, farther, faster. And that's a great aim to have. But is that the way life really works?

Let's say you want to be a champion high jumper.

I've written a bestselling book called "How to Be a Champion High Jumper" so you ask me to coach you. On the first day of training, you run onto the practice field, all motivated and ready to go.

As you're getting yourself psyched, I set the bar at 7 feet high, because that's the level the world's best high jumpers compete at. So you're standing there looking at the bar waaaaaay up there.

I say, "Come on, you can do it! Think positive! Get motivated!"

You, being the trooper you are, and not wanting to disappoint me, take a few steps back, then run as fast as you can, jump up with all your might... smack!

Not even close. You miss the bar by a mile.

"That's okay!" I say, clapping my hands. "You'll do better next time."

You gamely try again and again. I try to keep you "motivated" through affirmations, visualization and positive reinforcement. But you miss that damn bar every time.

Is this method ever going to work?

Of course not.

Yet, how many of us are doing this to ourselves every single day?

For example, let's say you have a goal of making a million dollars a year in your business. What if you make half a million this year? Would you feel you had a bad year? Like you didn't succeed?

Or would you say, "Hey, half a mil is pretty darn good!"

While it may sound simplistic, many people set themselves up to fail simply because their internal bar of success is set too high.

Sometimes, our bar is so high that even when we DO accomplish something meaningful or significant, it's never good enough.

If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. But the great news is that all of this is completely within your conscious control.

That means, no one's setting the bar but you. No one's telling you that's it's "not good enough" but you. And no one needs to change their mind but you.

One of my clients called me because she was reading my Afformations book with her daughter-in-law. My client had made millions of dollars in network marketing and was highly respected in her industry.

She told me that at one point in the book, she started crying because it was so emotional for her.
I asked her what part made her cry. She said, "When I read the Afformation, 'Why am I enough?'"

Here was this highly successful person - someone others looked up to, even envied because of her success. Yet she herself didn't feel good enough, even with all that "outer" success. Her bar really needed adjusting.

That's why I often tell my clients to LOWER the bar.

Here are some examples of what I mean by raising the bar:
  • "I need to close more sales."
  • "I need to finish writing my article."
  • "I need to make a million dollars by the end of the year."
  • "I need to lose 20 pounds."
  • "I'd better not make a mistake."

Yes, these are all fine things to shoot for. But what happens if you DON'T meet them? And what is your plan to achieve them in the first place?

Without a plan, all you have are more excuses to beat yourself up.

So, here are some examples I give my clients to LOWER the bar:

  • Listen to your prospects more than you talk at them. This will naturally increase their trust in you, which over time will lead to more sales.
  • Write the first 100 words of your article. Then, write the next 100. Then the next. Pretty soon, you'll be done.
  • Take a course on smart ways to invest your money. Then, follow a strategic plan to grow your money.
  • Exercise for 15 minutes a day, every day.
  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn better ways of doing things.

What can you do to lower the bar today, this week, and this month?

Sometimes all it takes is granting yourself the permission to do so: permission to lower the bar, permission to be human, and permission to succeed.

* * *
Noah St. John is the inventor of Afformations and author of the bestselling book The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness (HarperCollins).

Harvey Mackay says, "If you want to crack your own secret code of success, crack open Noah's book."

Noah coaches conscious entrepreneurs to DO LESS and HAVE MORE. He's been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, in The Washington Post, Bottom Line/Personal and Parade Magazine.

Get the first 3 chapters of Noah's Secret Code of Success FREE at NoahStJohn.com

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