If you want to be a good leader, learn to do this
Nat Ware, an award-winning entrepreneur and Oxford-educated economist actually discovered an equation that very accurately and predictably calculates happiness:
Expectations > Reality = Unhappiness
Expectations < Reality = Happiness
Or, to put it into words, when our expectations are greater or more grandiose than our reality turns out to be, it results in disappointment. But when we keep our expectations modest and then our reality exceeds our expectations, we’re joyful! We’re happy! We celebrate!
I’ve thought about this a lot.
Does this mean we shouldn’t dream big?
Does it mean we shouldn’t set lofty goals for ourselves and our businesses?
Does it mean that aiming high (something I’ve always been taught to do) guarantees my disappointment?
No. Absolutely not.
But what it does mean is that we should consider, whenever we set out to achieve something, that our plans might not work out. We should prepare for bumps, detours, and almost expect to have to pivot somewhere in the journey. It means that we should get used to embracing the fact that our greatest achievements will most often come in incremental wins that are fueled by lessons from disappointment and failure. No one climbs Mount Everest without a long series of practice that involves climbing smaller mountains, acclimatizing, adjusting oxygen levels, and testing out different tools and gear.
To sum it up? Dream big and plan for detours. Expect them and learn from them when they come. That’s how you get to the top. And most importantly, I found that when I do finally reach the top after failures and setbacks, that the win is even sweeter.
Last year, I read Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, a retired Navy Seal, ultra-marathon runner, and all-around badass.
One of the main lessons I took from the book is that experiences with disappointment, failure, and discomfort make us strong―but only if we persevere. He says, “A warrior…goes, ‘I’m here again today. I’ll be here again tomorrow, and the next day.’”
His lessons aren’t a new concept but they’re a lot easier said than done. If we didn’t know that getting sore after strength training meant that our muscle fibers were literally tearing and building back stronger, we might interpret that pain as a sign to never go to the gym again.However, when we change our perspective, we can begin to appreciate and even be grateful for our failures and disappointments.
It reminds me of this poem I heard often while growing up that I recently shared with my team at Lucid:
by Douglas Malloch
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
I’m personally learning to congratulate myself for trying, and embracing the times my failures give me as an opportunity to learn more (I remember when “No!” was the word I heard most often during my early career in sales), refine my skills, and strengthen my grit and resolve. I’m learning to adjust expectations and set daily achievable goals, knowing that every single painful moment, if I choose to let it, is building me up, adding to my skill set, and making me stronger, even if it hurts like hell.