“Raising the bar” is a term we often hear to be more competitive and more successful.
The term “raising the bar” is a metaphor borrowed from the sports world, meaning one should constantly strive to be better, go farther, faster. And that’s a great aim to have. But does it always work?
Warning: Raising the Bar may not Always Work
The secret of success: Get up early. Work late. Strike oil. – John D. Rockefeller
Imagine that you want to be a champion high jumper. Now imagine that I’m a world-famous coach who has written a bestselling book called, How to Be a Champion High Jumper. 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 I tell you that that’s the level the world’s best high jumpers compete at.
So what I’ve done is “raised the bar” on your first day of practice.
So imagine you’re standing there looking at the bar way up there…
I say to you:
Come on, you can do it! Think positive! Get motivated!
You, being the trooper you are – and because you’ve heard the term “raising the bar” – take a deep breath, run as fast as you can, jump up with all your might, and…
Not even close. You miss the bar by a mile.
“That’s okay!” I say, clapping my hands.
You’ll do better next time.
So imagine that you gamely try “raising the bar” over and over, again and again…
And I try to keep you “motivated.”
But you miss that stupid bar every time. So, the question is: Is this method ever going to work? Of course not. Yet, how many of us are doing a version of this exercise in futility to ourselves every single day?
For example, let’s say you have a goal of making a million dollars 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? Like you “failed”? Or would you say, “Hey, half a mil is pretty darn good!”
While it may sound simplistic, many people set themselves up to fail. 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 mindset but you.
That’s one reason I often advise my Mastermind students and coaching clients to consider lowering the bar.
Here are some examples of what I call 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 how to make money as a Thought Leader in your industry.
- 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?
Noah St. John is the Creator of Freedom Lifestyle Experience