You're better than you think. One simple reframe that proves you're a bad ass, and stops internet trolls in their tracks!
5 Minutes That Will Change How You See Yourself Forever.
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For thousands of years our vision sucked. Not because we had bad eye sight, but because for much of our history, huge portions of the world were completely hidden from us.
Imagine living in a little village and baking the most wonderful croissants in town. Hundreds of years ago, you would have no knowledge of the Pastry Chef 1,200 miles away in Paris, who was putting your baked goods to shame.
Our lives—and our views of the world at this time—were entirely localized.
As a result, you could easily be the most attractive girl in town, brew the best beer, build the fastest ships, be the most charismatic at parties, the richest, or the smartest.
More than that, if you weren’t number one, you were probably close. You could be the second most attractive, the fourth best brewer, the sixth richest, or the twelfth smartest. All of which are still pretty good.
Today though, localization is all but dead.
For example, you may have been the valedictorian of your high school, but now applying for jobs, you’re not just competing with people from your home town, but with all the valedictorians worldwide.
You went from the single smartest in a local setting, to the 83,415,370 smartest on a global scale.
Is that good, or bad?
It’s kind of hard to tell now but one thing is for sure, it doesn’t feel as great as number one.
You’re still the same
The important thing to note here is, objectively nothing changed.
You can be:
The best baker in your town
The 4th best in your city
The 87th best in your country
The 2,431st best in Europe
and the 934,922 best in the world
And the funny thing is, you can be all of those things at the exact same time. Your skills didn’t change, only the scale at which you viewed your accomplishment.
The Shirtless Men Section
In 1977—the year Saturday Night Fever came out—John Travolta was the apex male sex symbol. Later he starred as Danny Zuko in Grease, and officially cemented himself into the hearts of swooning women everywhere.
In the same year we had string-bean John Travolta spicing up the screen, we also had one of the greatest physiques of all time, emerge from obscurity.
Pumping Iron, a film documenting the rise of a charismatics young bodybuilder, had its initial theatrical release in 1977 as well. It introduced us to the man who would ultimately become the highest paid action star of all time. His name was Arnold Schwarzenegger.
John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever would go on to generate over 120 times more in box-office sales than Schwarzenegger’s Pumping Iron. Why?
Because at that time bodybuilding was obscure. It was a novelty, and many regarded it as nothing more than a circus act. Very few people participated in any form of weightlifting, and even less watched it.
But things would soon change.
More Shirtless Dudes
In the following years, the sensation Arnold created began to ripple through pop-culture. It would go on to radically alter the standards required for all male actors in Hollywood.
Ever wonder why now, even the quirky male lead in a Rom-Com has shredded abs, when like 2% of men in real life do?
Once the world saw Arnold, they couldn’t unsee Arnold.
Our vision changed, and what we expected from Hollywood—and men at large—changed as well.
Put another way:
Our sight: Where we looked.
Changed our perception: What we saw.
Which changed our attitudes: How we felt.
Which changed our behaviors: How we acted.
Starting with our sight, a feedback loop was created. And soon enough, young men everywhere were hitting the gym and pumping iron.
Just a Slice of Reality
The vastness of the our world is simply too much for the human brain to hold all at once. So instead we take a tiny sliver of reality—our perceived reality— and map it to the rest of the world.
We let the things that are most visible to us— friends, family, coworkers, TV, and social media— shape our view of how the world works.
That’s to say:
If we’ve graduated from college, and all of our friends have graduated from college, then we believe most people have a graduated from college.
If we have $50K in savings, and all of our friends have $50K in savings, then we believe most people have $50K in savings.
If we travel abroad, and all of our friends travel abroad, then we believe most people travel abroad.
When in fact, all three of those assumptions are spectacularly wrong.
What we see determines how we place ourselves and, ultimately, how we regard ourselves within society.
Take Stock of What Makes You Extraordinary
Here are a few areas of my life where I mistakenly mapped a small slice of reality, to the rest of the world. Each point is an area of accomplishment that, up until now, I’ve been lead to believe is at or below average.
It wasn’t until writing, and researching, this article that I realized not only are these things not normal, but in some cases they’re exceptional.
Fastest Mile. A few months ago, I set a new personal record for my mile run, at 6:32. According to the Cooper Test, that time puts me in the top 90-95% of runners my age.
Graduating From College. Although I graduated two years late, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in 2016. 62% of Americans over the age of 25 do not have a college degree, and 92% of people worldwide don’t either.
Romantic Relationship. I’ve been with my partner for 13 years now. According to the US Census Bureau, the average marriage lasts only 8.2 years.
Money in Savings. I’m not a wealthy guy by any stretch of the imagination, but the typical American under the age of 35, has less than $3,300 in savings.
How Can This Be?
Before writing this article, I never thought that any of those things were particularly special. In fact, I always felt like I was a bit behind.
I’m often in the slowest group at my local run club.
Most of my friends have not only graduated from college, but also have advanced degrees.
I am friends with at least three couples my age who have also been in relationships for over a decade.
I have always been a low earner in my social circle. Now, in San Francisco that gap has grown into a chasm.
My sight—and where I was looking for information about the world—was skewed. I was too narrowly focused. I needed to broaden my gaze for a more complete view of the world.
Your Perception is Your Reality
Am I the slowest runner of any of my friends?
Or am I in the fastest 10% of runners?
The answer is both, but how I feel about that objective truth is entirely dictated by my view, and where I am looking.
Percentages and Absolutes
Remember that we no longer live in a localized society. The Parisian bakers and the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world show up on our explore pages every day.
Therefore, we cannot use the same tools to measure ourselves that we used to.
In a localized world: Absolute terms are the measuring stick.
In a non-localized world: Percentages are the measuring stick.
The purpose of both of these measures are the same, to give us a more accurate depiction of the world around us, and our placement in it.
Being the 214,982 best runner in the U.S. give us very little information, but being in the top 10% does.
The latter also feels a hell of a lot better too.
Feeling for the Truth
The amount of money I make each year is an objective truth. How I feel about that money, is a subjective feeling.
If my vision is stuck locally, and I’m only comparing myself to friends—who are making four times as much as I do—I’ll always feel inadequate. Worse, I’ll find myself competing with, and ultimately, resenting my friends.
If instead, I decide to broaden my view—looking to the whole of the world for information—I’ll see that I’m in the top 2% earners worldwide. In that situation, there’s a lot more gratitude and a lot less resentment.
Put another way: nearly everyone on Earth makes less money than I do, nearly everyone on Earth is slower than I am, and nearly everyone on Earth is less educated.
That feels a bit different now, and I believe it gives a more realistic depiction of:
Who I am
What I’ve achieved
What has been given to me through no act of my own
Reframing in this way is not a form of self deception, but rather a way to more accurately place ourselves as members of a global society.
I’ll say it again because I believe this is the single most important idea in this article:
Our sight: Where we look.
Changes our perception: What we see.
Which changes our attitudes: How we feel.
Which changes our behaviors: How we act.
If a simple shift in perspective can change how we feel, and ultimately how we act, it’s time to start being more intentional about how we view ourselves.
I encourage you to take a step back today.
Do 5 minutes of research.
Is there anything you’re taking for granted?
Is there anything you’re unexpectedly great at?
Spend some time today recalibrating, broadening your view, and maybe you’ll find you’re more extraordinary than you previously thought.