Thursday, September 26, 2013

30 REAL Seconds To Examine Expectations

Go ahead...imagine how long 30 seconds is. Count it out in your head if you want to.

Now...push play on this video and wait in silence until it finishes or set a timer for 30 seconds.

If you're anything like me, imagining how long 30 seconds will take and physically feeling and embracing how long 30 seconds actually takes are two very different things. Feeling 30 seconds takes A LOT longer than I imagined it would my head.

Over the past few months I've come to realize are my expectations of time, energy and skill are COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC. As unrealistic as Malcolm Gladwell's theory that 10,000 hours of legitimate practice will make you an expert at anything you attempt to do. The truth is that there are so many variables that factor into what we do and who we are that it's nearly impossible to know how long it will take someone to become an expert at something, let alone discover if they even HAVE the ability to reach that expert level people so often covet, but seldom reach. I mean, think about this...If every person in the world reached every lofty goal and aspiration they set for themselves, then there would be a lot more than just 1% of the population who would reach the "wealthy and elite" standard of living or who would become the professional athlete so many pretended to be in their backyard as a child.

My personal struggle with expectations comes from the anxiety of underperforming a task or activity that I believe I should be good at.  I'm afraid that even if I put forth my best effort, I'll still be disappointed in my final result. From complex and time-consuming long term goals like learning to play an instrument, performing in an improv comedy class or editing videos with a brand new software to simple—borderline menial—tasks or chores like keeping on a daily schedule, planting and watering grass seed or planning a date with my wife...the anxiety is there. I have no patience with myself, yet, I don't believe I have a fear of failure. In my mind, fear of failure is when you choose to not attempt something because you're convinced you won't be good at it. I'd like to think that I've grown past that issue because of the challenges I've faced growing up with cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy. As I've mentioned time and time again on this blog, I've failed at a lot of things and I don't lose any sleep over those failures because I figure they're all part of learning my strengths and weaknesses. If I ever choose not to do something, it would be because I didn't enjoy doing it the first few times I tried it.

No, the constant mistake I make when setting my expectations is forgetting to factor in MY variables. I forget that because of my life with cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and the other physical and mental skills I've been given or have been taken from me, the way I learn and function in the real world happens at a slower pace than what's expected of me by the rest of society. I'm just coming to grips with the fact that I ALWAYS get where everyone else is, but it's always going to take a bit longer for me get there. It's been a huge relief to finally accept this truth about who I am. It's allowed me to not only try new things, but actually enjoy the process of trying new things rather than fret about it. To grow as a person with many intricate roles: A husband, son, godfather, friend, family member and role model.

And that got me to wondering...In a world where we're always looking for the bigger, better, faster and stronger way to do something, what could we accomplish if we just slowed down and took in every moment? What could we do if we took the time to learn about things at an individual pace where we could absorb what we're learning on a deeper and fuller level without the expectations or pressures of becoming an expert at something?  What could we understand and learn about ourselves and the world if we actually took REAL time to think about things before we did them?

I challenge you to take 30 REAL seconds or more and think about that. Don't forget that there's a video up above so you don't cheat yourself out of a few precious seconds. They could be the difference between learning something and losing it. 

Trust me. I know from experience.

Peaceful and Steadily Paced Things,


1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts and suggestions Josh, I typify most of what you wrote and will now try a slow down. Hope you're well. Love to your family!
    From your friend in England.


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