When we fail in any experience in our life we have the tendency to avoid trying again in order to prevent ourselves from feeling the pain that we have experienced before.
In the field of psychology, I read a study in which rats received electric shocks every time they tried to take food from a tray. Eventually, they completely stopped approaching the food tray because of their fear. Then the electricity was turned off and even more scintillating and desirable foods were placed on the tray. Yet the rats still would not approach it. As time went on, the rats chose to starve to death rather than take the risk of approaching the tray.
Can you imagine being so programmed by past events that you would prefer starvation and death rather than confronting the possibility of encountering the feared event again? And yet that is precisely what happened to these rats. They could have gone back to the tray, eaten better food than they had ever had before, regained all their strength, and returned to a normal life. But they didn’t even try. That is the awesome power of negative programming.
Like the rats, we were programmed by our teachers, coaches, fellow students and even our parents to believe that we were average or ordinary kids. As such, we began to believe we were only capable of average, ordinary achievements. Now, even though our programming was totally unintentional on the part of those who programmed us, it is still devastatingly powerful.
How many marriages have ended in divorce because a couple did not have the vision and the confidence to turn a mediocre marriage into a truly fulfilling one? Or equally tragic, how many couples have continued to live in an unfulfilling relationship for years or even decades because they didn’t think they could change their mediocre relationship into one where all their highest hopes and greatest expectations are fulfilled?
It’s also evident in education. Many students that start college never graduate. They start with a dream, but they give up on it because they have been programmed to believe they don’t have what it takes to realize it. How many people end up with a job, totally unfulfilled, not because they wanted it but because they believed it was the best they could do in light of their abilities, background and circumstances?
I hope you are beginning to see how devastating this chain of programmed-for-mediocrity truly is. It keeps you anchored to your launching pad with no hope of ever blasting off and achieving your dreams.
Now, before you get too depressed, let me tell you what it takes to break this chain.
The first step is an awakening. I am not talking about a spiritual event but simply waking up. First, you must wake up to the fact that you too have been programmed for mediocrity. Isn’t it true that when you think of the super successful — whether in business, marriage or any other area — you think of someone other than yourself?
The next step is even more important. You must wake up to the fact that even though you may be an average person, you are capable of extraordinary achievements.
Let me explain first what I mean by “extraordinary achievements.” While your income or the material things you possess may be general indicators of achievement, they are not accurate measurements of the degree of accomplishment.
Mother Theresa made very little income and never had a lot of material possessions, yet her achievements far surpassed those of the world’s richest men. The true measure of her success could only be found in the loving and appreciative eyes of the dying men, women and children she nourished and cared for throughout her life.
In such cases, extraordinary achievement is not measured by wealth. Even for famous people like Oprah Winfrey who have been financially successful, the true measure of their achievements is the impact they have had on the lives of so many people.
All of this is to say that the true measure of your achievement is the amount of fulfillment you are able to bring to others and to yourself. God did not create you for mediocrity. He created you for extraordinary, awesome achievement in all areas of your life. All you need is to believe in yourself.
For example, if you were broke, and I deposited $10 million in your account and told you about it, but you didn’t believe me, what would happen? Absolutely nothing! Even though you would be $10 million richer, you would continue to live and behave as if you were broke.
If you can accept that you were programmed for mediocrity and that you are capable of changing this programming by believing in yourself and your abilities to become a great achiever, well … get ready for the ride of your life as you are on the right track for having a great experience.
Karim El-Shakankiry is an internationally renowned life coach, motivator and public speaker. He is the founder of “yesUcan” organization for personal and corporate coaching based in Montreal, Canada. He is the first to introduce life coaching in the Middle East and is the president of the Arab Coaching Federation.