Are you average and proud of it? If I had to guess, your first reaction was “No way, Greg. I’m WAY above average.” And you’re absolutely right. In many ways, you are indeed way above average. And believe it or not, that might be one of your biggest problems.
I know – the first time I saw that statement it threw me for a loop. I thought it was the craziest idea I had ever seen. I mean, I’ve been working on self-development, working on being above average, for the last two decades. How can that be my biggest problem?
And then I took a few minutes to read more about the idea. You see, it was taking the idea of “dollar cost averaging” (an investment strategy) and applying it to life in general. A simple example of dollar cost averaging would be: I invest $50 every week in a particular stock. Sometimes, the market is up and my money buys less. But sometimes the market is down and my money buys more. Over time, my investment account continues to grow and I don’t have to worry about trying to time the market. Instead, I just think long term and invest a comfortable amount for as long as I can and before I even realize it, my investment has grown beyond my expectations.
Blogger James Clear started applying that idea to life in general and especially in areas where his life didn’t seem to work quite like he wanted. For example, he started weightlifting in an effort to improve his physical condition and he noticed that when he followed conventional advice, his results were sporadic. He applied the dollar cost averaging idea to his weightlifting for a year and found that his results were wildly beyond his expectation. Instead of going for monumental gains every few weeks, James lifted just a few more pounds each week. He had basically dollar cost averaged his weightlifting – pound gain averaging, to be more accurate. And he did not hit a single plateau the entire year.
So, how is your biggest problem that you are above average? If you’re anything like me, you get really happy when your results are as good or better than you expected. And you get really REALLY down on yourself when your results aren’t quite what you expected. When everything is said and done, those highs and lows can be an above average drain on the emotions and cause motivation to virtually disappear.
But what if we avoided the highs and lows and instead we started dollar cost averaging towards our goals? As one example, I want to read 14 new-to-me books this year. I have figured out that I read about 10 pages with good comprehension in 15 minutes. So I have started reading 15 minutes every day, knowing that some of the new books will be thicker and some will be thinner. In other words, by investing a very easy 15 minutes per day in reading, I will have read and digested 3,650 new pages of information, ideas and consolidated wisdom. And honestly, if I don’t actually hit the goal of 14 books, I will still be WAY ahead of the game.
Take a moment and think about one of your goals for the year. How could you apply the dollar cost averaging idea to that goal? Leave a comment and share your ideas and thoughts.
Have you ever heard that old old saying “When you assume, you make an ass of u and me”? Well, in this case, I don’t think I made an ass of anyone. But, in my last post I had some underlying assumptions that I had not challenged or even acknowledged. I made some connections that likely don’t even exist in reality and presented some things in a way that didn’t tell the right story – either to me or to you. Thanks to a quiet little nudging question from Jodi at Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace, I saw what I had and hadn’t done.
I realize we all make assumptions every single day. One simple example: When you press the brake pedal in your car, you assume you will slow down and eventually stop. In fact, the list of little assumptions we make all the time is probably endless if we stop to think about it.
But in this case it went a little further than just making a simple assumption or two. In this case, it led to me taking on an entirely false reality. Were people speeding by me on a horrible road in horrible weather? Yes. Were there accidents, some of which were likely life-ending for some people? Yes. Were those two things related at all? Not necessarily.
I wonder how many times we all fall into the same trap. I think for the next several days we should all try to observe when we fall into this trap. I bet we’ll find that things are much better than we originally assumed.
I learned yesterday there is almost nothing like driving 450 miles in snow, ice, often zero visibility and 40 mph wind to help develop a tiny bit more patience.
But only if you want to arrive at your destination in one piece, even if late by more than 3 hours. Since one of my major goals every time I get behind the wheel of a car is arrive safely, I always take road conditions into account. Sometimes this really tests my patience. Yesterday was a different story, though. Maybe it was the anxiety of having most of my family in the van with me. Maybe it was the added anxiety of placing my trust in our very survival to unnamed factory workers in Tennessee doing their jobs to the best of their ability almost a decade ago to ensure our van would make the trip in bitterly cold weather. Whatever the reason, I got a perfect opportunity to develop, exercise, learn, and perfect a tiny bit more patience yesterday. With myself. With my family. With other drivers.
Sadly, I witnessed the end result of several people who either didn’t want to be more patient or didn’t realize you must be more patient when you’re driving on a sheet of ice. I know of at least four people whose lives came to a tragic end yesterday because they couldn’t be bothered to slow down some. I pray for those families that were affected by the result of poor judgement and lack of patience.
After more than 7 months away, I have returned to this Tiny Bit Better blog. Why so long? I had some family issues and some personal issues to address and needed just one less distraction. Might not seem like much of a distraction to just sit down and type out one’s thoughts.
But I found out the hard way, when you’re trying to distill simple and profound learning points from a 24 hour period, it can be easy to fall victim to the pressure to perform. I never really intended this blog to be the biggest site on the web and I didn’t intend to ever act as if I have all the answers.
No…it was actually a way for me to look back and be able to learn my own lessons on being a Tiny Bit Better and then to share those in hopes it would make your journey just that much easier.
So, now that the new year has started and I’ve made a pretty fair number of a big changes, it is time once again to help myself, and possibly you, navigate through 2014 a tiny bit more sanely, with a tiny bit more grace towards myself and others. If it works out the way I hope and expect, my tiny bits – YOUR tiny bits – will really add up this year. And we’ll look back and surprise ourselves with how far our paths have taken us.
If you’re still here, I appreciate you a HUGE amount and hope you’ll continue to stick around.
I’ve always been a fairly competitive person, sometimes driving people away from me because I turned almost everything into a win / lose situation. I’m almost embarrassed to admit but I treated almost everything in life as a zero-sum game…if you had more, it meant I had to have less. And I always justified it by saying “How else will I know how much I’ve improved? How else will I know where I stand?”
Now, before I go much further, let me be clear. I’m not talking about competitive sports. I enjoy watching and used to enjoy playing competitive sports for the fun of playing the game. Same as when I play games with my kids. There ARE good life lessons to be learned by playing games like Monopoly or something on our game system. What I mean here is the kind of competition that is all too often silent and unacknowledged by the people I’m competing against.
You know what I mean. “I’m thinner than that guy.” “I look better than her.” “She’s so much prettier than I am.” “I’m so much smarter than he is and he still got the promotion.” “I play guitar SO much better than that guy.” Those quiet little competitions we have all the time. Sometimes we call it comparison. But, to my way of thinking, it’s just competition.
Lately, though, I’ve been rethinking that whole proposition. First I started thinking about why it was so important to me to compare myself to others. I mean, from everything I’ve seen, it looks like I’ll always be better that some people at some things and not as good as other people at other things. I’m always going to be thinner than someone, but chubbier than someone else. I’ll always be wealthier than someone but not as wealthy as someone else. I’ll always be a better musician than some people, but not as gifted or skilled as others. So, it seems right off the bat like that type of competition, which I’ve done for as long as I can remember, is nothing short of emotionally suicidal.
I’ve been tossing these ideas around for a few weeks and today I finally came to the conclusion that I just don’t want to compete anymore. At least not with anyone else through these ridiculous comparisons and unacknowledged competitions. Instead, I only want to compete with myself. I only want to compare myself to how I was yesterday. In other words, I want to start asking myself questions like “Am I healthier today than I was yesterday?” and “Am I smarter today than I was yesterday?” and “Am I richer today, in friends, in love, in kindness, in wealth, than I was yesterday?” In that way, I can focus on getting a tiny bit better every day.
And once I stop comparing myself to other people, I’ll actually be able to look at them through the lenses of a love, which I am called to do as a Christian. Seems to me that I’m setting myself up for a win / win situation. I win by not bashing my own self-concept and I win by learning to love other people as they are without worrying anymore if they are better than me.
Will I still enjoy watching sports on TV? Yes. I believe there are many good lessons and some fantastic life drama to be enjoyed by watching athletes compete on level playing fields, testing their skills against others of similar skill and talent level. And competitive sports are not the same type of competition I was talking about before. And I might even begin to enjoy some competitive sports for myself.
Hi! It’s been a long time since my last post here. I’d love to say it’s been for a good reason, but I’m not entirely sure I can say that without stretching the truth. Sure, work has been crazy. Home has been very busy with 5 kids in the house and all of them doing something different in their extracurricular lives. And we’ve had our own busy busy busy going on between coaching various kids in different church bands or performing as part of the worship teams ourselves. These last few weeks have just been one mad dash after another.
And while that has fulfilling, it has also left me wondering if maybe it’s just too much now. If I look at any one of us as a singular entity, the level of activity seems good. Busy enough to stay out of trouble but not so busy as to be overwhelmed.
BUT…when I look at the 7 of us all together…Whew! It’s actually a bit overwhelming at times. Sometimes we look around us and wonder where the day went…what happened to the world while we were driving this one to here or that one to there.
It’s one of those deals where it’s both good and bad.
On the good side…the kids are flourishing, their talents are being developed, their interests are being acknowledged and tested, their minds are being opened…it’s a great thing.
On the bad side…we are putting nearly 500 miles on the cars each week…we are missing quantity and quality time both with all the kids…we don’t have enough time to pursue our own interests and talents…it’s not such a great thing all the time.
So, if you found yourself in this same situation, what would you do? I look forward to your suggestions.