“Your results in life will never exceed your expectations, and your expectations will never exceed your imagination.”
I wrote these words several years ago in my book,The Power of Consistency, and over the years since then, I have become more convinced than ever of their accuracy.
Your results will never exceed your expectations because of a little filter in your brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS decides what you notice in life and what you do not notice in life. Scientist estimate that in any given moment there are millions of things you could notice – sights, sounds, smells, movements, shapes, colors, etc. The RAS decides which of those things you notice in any given moment.
For example, odds are you have a cell phone very near you as you read this. But did you even notice the cell phone before I mentioned it? Were you consciously aware of it sitting in your pocket or on the table or desk next to you? I doubt it, and the reason you did not notice it is that, before I mentioned it, it had no relevance to you reading this article.
But what if it had started ringing while you were reading? Would you have noticed it then? Of course you would have because within the scope of a nanosecond it became relevant. What if the phone started overheating and smoke and fire began to emanate from the battery? Would you have noticed it then? Of course you would because in the instant you noticed the smoke and fire the cell phone became relevant to your wellbeing (especially if it was in your pocket!).
The job of the RAS is to filter out the millions of things around you that are not relevant to you and filter in the things that are relevant to you, so you can focus your attention on the things around you that matter. So if you perceive something as being irrelevant to you, your RAS will filter it out as irrelevant.
Consider that, then consider this: Suppose you have a $2,000,000 contracting business and think it would be nice to grow it to $5,000,000, but you have always thought there is no way you could grow your business to $5,000,000.
What do you suppose your RAS would do if a $5,000,000 opportunity came waltzing passed you? That’s right! Your RAS would filter it out because it perceives that opportunity as irrelevant to you! After all, your RAS is very busy looking for the opportunities to help you maintain your $2,000,000 company!
In this instance, your results were extremely limited by your expectations. In fact, your limited expectations ensured that you didn’t even notice the $5,000,000 opportunity.
Welcome to the very real world of self-self-fulfilling prophecy. You always believed you could never grow a $5,000,000 company and your RAS proved you right!
I mean think about it, if your mind believes you are going to build a $2,000,000 company, what are the odds that one day you will accidentally build a $5,000,000 company? Not very likely, is it?
A few years ago I was talking to a young man who owned a small plumbing company. As we talked, he complained and bemoaned his state of financial affairs. Business was slow and the cheap competitors were stealing all his business.
“You just don’t understand,” he said. “It’s different in my town!”
Then he said the magic words, “Well, it’s like my daddy always said; plumbers don’t drive Cadillacs!”
There’s your sign, buddy. How in the world could he ever make money with those expectations?
But here is the crazy part: a couple weeks later I happened to be in Florida working with one of the most successful plumbing contractors in the country. After the day of working with his service and sales team, he invited me out to his house for dinner. As I turned into the driveway his wife was backing out of the garage. What do you suppose she was driving?
Exactly! A Cadillac Escalade.
And I said to myself, “Hmm. I guess some plumbers DO drive Cadillacs.”
My contractor friend asked me to get into the Escalade so he could drive me to a nearby marina and show me his new boat. When I got to his “boat” it turned out to be a 65-foot yacht! I chuckled to myself, “I guess some plumbers drive Cadillacs AND yachts, and some don’t.”
But here is the central question: “Plumbers don’t drive Cadillacs,” or “Plumbers drive Cadillacs and yachts”; which man is right?
Precisely. They are both right because they are both products of their expectations. As long as one man thought he could never prosper enough in the plumbing business to drive a luxury SUV, what’s the likelihood he would create and execute a plan to build real wealth. He never will because he has already decided it would be a waste of his time and energy because plumbers don’t drive Cadillacs, right?
So dream big my friend. Allow your imagination to soar. Imagine amazing things for you and your family. Know that, in the immortal words of Napoleon Hill, “anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
As you imagine great things, come to expect great things. Your expectations will drive you to notice the opportunities you will need and motivate you to do the hard work necessary to create great things.
And remember: “Your results in life will never exceed your expectations, and your expectations will never exceed your imagination.”