“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
As a kid, I loved reading biographies of famous people I admired — and still do. One of the things that appealed to me so much about these high achievers was that they had a sense of destiny and purpose; even as young children this was often apparent. They believed in themselves and felt, even in the face of huge obstacles, that they would ultimately be successful. They expected great things from themselves — and this sustained them and fueled their persistence.
What a wonderful way to be! Yet most of us set the bar for ourselves low instead of high. When it comes to our writing, we may feel that we’re too lazy or undisciplined or that we don’t have enough training to truly excel. And so we settle for less than we really want. It’s low expectations — our own self-imposed limitations — more than lack of talent or any external barrier that often keep us from fulfilling our potential and developing our gifts.
It’s not hard to understand why this happens. In one research study, grad students followed two-year olds and their parents around. On average, the kids heard 14 negative statements for every positive one. It’s that kind of conditioning we need to overcome if we’re going to thrive and grow. How can we break through this barrier? By raising our expectations for ourselves: by raising the bar and aiming higher.
It’s not easy, but it’s doable. One technique involves immersing yourself in the writings, biographies, and letters of authors and others you admire. As you “make friends” with them mentally, you begin to gain insights and new approaches you can apply in your own work. And as you make progress, your sense of your own capabilities enlarges and your expectations for yourself rise.
What a great feeling!