How to Overcome an 8-8 Mindset

No, this is not another article rant about the Dallas Cowboys performance on the football field in recent years, although there are some similarities we’ll draw upon here. This article is about you – if you are one of those business leaders who seems to be stuck in neutral and unable to find the magic formula to move to the next level.

None of us grew up with the notion of being average, just being good enough. Whether in sports, music, grades, business, etc., we have all been in-grained with the idea of being the best in our chosen pursuits. Does this seem realistic? There is nothing wrong with the quest for excellence. However, not everyone can be a top performer. Real life just doesn’t work that way.

Are your expectations aligned with reality?

Let’s talk for a moment about the ‘BIG LIE’. The big lie is what we tell ourselves when we’ve a bad day or when things aren’t going the way we had hoped, “Things are going to get better”. They’re not. Things are not going to get better until you do. As I mentioned in an earlier article, nothing changes until something changes. And that something is YOU!

In Matthew 9:17, Jesus told his followers, “You can’t pour new wine into old wine skins”. What Jesus was really saying to them is you can’t have the ‘BIG LIFE’ you have always dreamed about with self-limiting attitudes and beliefs. In addition, to achieve success at any level you must take risks, make changes and sacrifices to get there. What are you willing to risk, change or sacrifice to reach your goals?

Let’s use the Dallas Cowboys to get at the answer to the expectations vs. reality question. The Cowboys have had an 8-8 record for each of the past three seasons, yet the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, continues to talk about winning the Super Bowl as the goal each year. The reality is that the team has not been to the Super Bowl since 1996, and has a combined .500 winning percentage over the past 15 years.

It’s good to have dreams and goals, but aren’t we setting ourselves up for failure if they’re not grounded in reality? If winning the Super Bowl in your chosen field is the goal, then what must change vs. today’s reality in order for you to achieve it? A more logical approach to reach your ultimate goals should be to focus on sustained growth and improvement over time rather than setting the bar too high in the early stages and falling short.

Is the law of averages working for or against you?

Past results are not an indicator of future performance. The Cowboys still share the record for the most Super Bowl appearances. However, duplicating that prior success has been a major challenge. In sports and business in particular, it always comes down to what have you done for me lately? If you’re one of those business leaders that are stuck today, maybe one of the keys to getting unstuck is to change your view of what average represents.

Statistically the majority of us, roughly 60% (Bell curve) fall into the normal or average range, whether we accept this as our lot in life or not. (18 of the 32 NFL teams had the same or worse records than the Cowboys in 2013). So, average really isn’t a bad thing. And it certainly does not imply that if you are average you should stop trying to improve. It’s simply an indicator of how you stack up when compared with your peer group at any given point in time.

How do we overcome an 8-8 mindset?

  1. Stop looking at being average as a limitation and start seeing it for what it is, an opportunity for change, growth and improvement.
  2. Ask yourself this question, “What is the desired outcome and what are you willing to sacrifice to get there?” How does this align with today’s reality?
  3. Review your current performance. Are you playing to your strengths, doing the right things with the same frequency that produced success in the past?
  4. Develop a detailed action plan with realistic goals and timeframes. Focus on the critical areas where improvements are needed to make progress.
  5. Don’t settle for the status quo. Raise your expectations and be willing to take risks in order to reach your goals and achieve success.

“If you can change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Psychologists have proven that if we reshape the lens of how we view things we can change reality, and by changing reality we can change the outcome. As an example, how do you view your business today – a small local business, or a global enterprise doing business in selected markets?

To overcome an 8-8 mindset, you must be creative and explore ways to challenge and reinvent yourself and your business. Perception is reality, so change your thinking and fully capitalize on the opportunities to move beyond your vision.

Enjoy the journey!



COPYRIGHT © 2014 John Carroll