“You will never see an eagle of distinction flying low with pigeons of mediocrity.” – Onyi Anyado
My friend Dave is a highly skilled professional photographer. So when he contacted me to see if we could do a photoshoot together, without any hesitation I jumped at the opportunity. He wanted to experiment with some night lighting at an outdoor mall; his goal was to create something with a Lifestyle Magazine effect.
We met the following evening and he immediately started shooting. He chose various backgrounds but despite the beautiful venue we were at, nothing “felt” right for him. He tried changing lenses and worked with different colors and lighting; all to no avail. He felt everything was staged; nothing was flowing. It was then that he came up with a brilliant idea,
“Let’s ditch the baggage”
So off we went to the parking garage to dump some “extra” stuff. He dropped off 3 lenses, 2 camera flashes, extra batteries and his tripod.
As we walked back to the central corridor of the mall, everything magically changed for Dave. Out of nowhere lights, angles, colors, store front windows, flowers and plants all surfaced to his keen eye with a captivating enchantment.
The next two and a half hours literally flew by as we went from one background to another. It was as if the lighting and backdrops were beckoning him on. For an artist, it was creative freedom at its finest.
We were both firmly convinced that it wouldn’t have happened had we not dropped the baggage.
When you think of the word baggage, what comes to mind?
Usually we think of things that are cumbersome and detrimental to us:
- Negative thoughts
- Self-Defeating habits
- The things that are weighing us down from our past
So before you answer that question, let’s first redefine baggage. You see the items we dropped off in the car were all extremely useful and valuable:
- Camera Flashes
- A Tripod
- Camera Lenses
None of these professional items qualify as being called baggage. But at that moment in time, Dave didn’t need them. What he needed right then and there was freedom; freedom to create, and to “see” things without pretense.
For our purposes, let’s define baggage as extra stuff. That sheds a whole new light on the term baggage. What extra stuff do you need to put away so that you can find the freedom to be more creative and productive?
What must you drop from your agenda to make a transformational difference in your life?
We live in a world where we are bombarded to do more, to be more, to have more. What has this mindset done to us? It’s given us less freedom, more stress, increased anxiety levels, and mediocre performance.
Many of us have become the jack of all trades yet the master of none. We are so busy trying to do it all that we fail to be experts at any one thing. So how can we become excellent at what we do and stop living a life of mediocrity? Let’s look at 4 key concepts to help you create a spirit of excellence in your life.
4 Ways to Break Free From Mediocrity and Create Excellence
1. Go Back to Basics
Dave went back to basics; he challenged himself to create art with only 1 camera body and 1 lens. It forced him to return to the days when he was a poor college kid and had to create art with what he had.
Later that evening, he texted me and told me that that night he crafted something he only had dreamed of creating. This was possible because he let go of the excess and lost himself in the creative process. He was free of restraints and excess stuff, even if the stuff was valuable.
What are you depending on that is taking away from your creativity and hampering you from going forward? Try eliminating one thing this week that you are reliant on. Track and see how removing it affects your productivity, energy or creativity.
2. Stop Doing Everything Yourself
Do you take on more than you should? The painful truth you need to realize is that you’re not good at everything and neither am I. Many of us think we need to do it all and this only leads to burnout. We end up overwhelmed and frustrated and we lose our creative genius along the way.
When you learn the importance of letting go of the things that are non-essential, or better yet when you discover the value of teaching others how to do these things, you open up opportunities to engage in the things you excel in.
Why is this so hard to do? It’s because usually a faulty belief system is at the root of thinking that we need to do it all. We believe things like:
- We don’t think anyone else can accomplish the task as good as we can.
- We are too busy or impatient to take the time to instruct others.
- We are afraid we will lose our edge.
The best way to combat this faulty belief system is to trust others. By teaching others to do what we think only we can do, we empower them to grow and learn new skills. That’s how great leaders are made.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese Proverb
Think about it, who do you know that you can teach to do something you are currently doing? What gift will you be giving this person by trusting and instructing them?
3. Learn to Say No
Have you ever said yes when everything inside of you is saying NO? People pleasers say yes when they really mean no and all this does is violate their values; they are not being true to themselves and it also weakens their self-confidence.
Most of saying yes when meaning no is rooted in fear. People fear being judged, they might fear conflict or fear what others think about them.
Look at your schedule, what can you say no to this week? What does saying no free you up to do?
“Say no to many good things so you can say yes to a few great things.” – Greg McKeown
4. Focus on the Most Important Things
What are you really good at? What do you love to do? Before you can focus on the important things that are in your genius lane, you need to eliminate the things that drain your energy and keep you performing at mediocre levels.
Dan Sullivan, Founder of Strategic Coach Inc., believes that in order to be motivated to free yourself up from stuff, you have to know WHAT you’re being freed up to do. His ABC model is divided up into 3 categories:
- The things that irritate you
- The things that are okay
- The things that are fascinating and motivating
The goal is to reduce the time you spend on the things that drain your energy and to expand the time and energy on the things you love and are really good at: your most important things.
“By focusing on the unique combination of your skill and passion, you can remain endlessly fascinated and motivated.” – Dan Sullivan
Write out your own ABC’s. What changes can you make to free up time to focus on what fascinates and motivates you?
“Once you have experienced excellence, you will never again be content with mediocrity.” – Thomas S. Monson
There are some things in life we have no control over; ditching extra stuff is not one of them. You have 100% control over you decision to get rid of the things that are keeping you from being excellent. Once you eliminate the nonessentials, you can be fully engaged in what you love and never have to worry about being mediocre.
Find What is Truly Indispensable in Your Life
Focus on What Motivates and Fascinates You
Ditch the Extra Stuff
Ready to Dig Deeper?
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