I remember having a conversation with a senior executive I worked with several years ago who offered a piece of advice when I was going through some significant trials at work. He told me, “As long as you go to bed at night satisfied that you did all you could do for the organization, then that should be good enough for you.” At the time, this seemed pretty solid to me. Basically, he was telling me that regardless what people were saying or how financials looked, all that really mattered was whether or not I was satisfied with my efforts. That was the most important thing: my perception and my own personal judgment.

RECENT: Expectations and Group Culture — A Conversation for Day One

It wasn’t long after that conversation that I truly realized just how dangerous this mindset is. When we are left to our own opinions regarding our performance, in any venue, the credibility behind our outcomes almost always falls short. You can think that you’re a great long as you don’t enter a competition and see how you compare to others. You can believe that you’re a great executive; however, if you are underperforming financially and your customers are complaining, all the positive feelings in the world won’t save your job or your business. If you call yourself a great football coach, but you constantly post losing records and your athletes seldom return for their sophomore year…well, you get the picture. While I will constantly argue that self-confidence is important in any leadership role, a self-perception not rooted in outside feedback and actual results is almost always false.


A couple of things to consider:

Foster a desire to be measured. 

Don’t wait for feedback to come to you. Seek it out. If you are a business owner, compare yourself with industry and market standards to see how you are performing. If you want to see if you are strong, find a local powerlifting meet and challenge yourself. If you are a writer, find mentors and editors who are tough on their clients and push them to new levels. The most important thing that you can do is allow other people to decide what “excellent” is and find out where you stand.

Accept the outcome. 

Once you are measured and your outcomes are evaluated, humbly accept where you are at without making excuses. I would much rather understand that I am an intermediate lifter or average businessman than unrealistically think that I am on top of the food chain.

Move on.

We’ve all heard the phrase, ”I never lose, I either win or I learn.” Regardless whether it is the scoreboard, the balance sheet, or the platform, in order to learn from the pain of being anything less than number one, you have to accept the outcome and use it as motivation to improve and accomplish more.

There are few things worse than being out of touch regarding our status, ability, or talent. If we allow ourselves to hold the only opinion towards our success, status, or outcomes, then we will never come close to fulfilling our full potential. Seek out opportunities and people that will put your accomplishments into an honest perspective and allow yourself to be humbled. Rather than living in a world of self-delusion and personal hype, you will gain the maturity needed to achieve what you desire.