The following article was contributed by Chris Scaffidi, Director of Market Development at The Pacific Institute.
About 18 years ago, my wife and I discovered that we would soon be seeing the arrival of our second child. Feeling the overwhelming need for more space, I decided that I would finish off the basement of our 700-square-foot home, adding some much-needed office space. I was amazed at my drive and energy to complete this project even while teaching 5 classes w/ 3 preps. Immediately after a long day of teaching, grading, and planning, I would put on my work clothes and jump into my home improvement project: framing walls, hanging drywall, installing plumbing, and adding lighting.
By the time of my daughter’s arrival, the job that was 90% complete came to an abrupt halt. Feeling overwhelmed with two young kids (we now have six)! I just couldn’t get to those final home improvement tasks.
In the first weeks after the project’s hiatus, it would frustrate me to go down to the basement and see the partially-painted walls, the unfinished light fixtures, and the missing sections of floorboard. However, I noticed that with the passage of time the incomplete look bothered me less and less. In fact, I grew so accustomed to my unfinished surroundings that I didn’t pick up a paintbrush or hammer again until we decided to put the house on the market 9 years later! I had gotten used to the substandard look and accepted mediocrity.
That’s how our brain works. We begin any venture with clear goals and high ideals. However, if we expose ourselves to the substandard long enough we get used to it, often compromising our standards and original goals. Sometimes, this is OK.
We are human and we cannot do it all…and adapting our internal pictures to match our present circumstances can be beneficial.
Oftentimes, settling for less is not ok, especially when we allow ourselves to get used to negative things that impact our mission. I encourage you as leaders to reflect on the question, “What have we allowed ourselves to get used to in regards to our original goals and standards?” And then answer the follow up question, “What do we want to get used to?” In the same way I was able to assimilate the picture of a substandard basement by revisiting that basement each day, we can also assimilate constructive visions for success by visiting our goals every day. If our vision is strong enough, it naturally creates the internal drive and energy needed to make that picture a reality.