The science of selling yourself short
Imagine that you have an interview. Things are going really well – then you get pushed on how much you should get paid. You don’t want to scare them off so you give them a pathetically low amount.
Your fear that by giving them a high amount would be a deal breaker, but this actually ruins the interview. The average person doing the role earns a lot more – they start to wonder why you gave such a low amount.
The interviewer goes back through your originaly application and starts picking holes in it. Bu now they seriously doubt your abilities – perhaps you don’t have the confidence to do such a high level job and feel you are not experienced enough for the role. In the end you don’t get it.
“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”
In the meantime another applicant ‘John’ gets an interview and thinks he’s all that – he tells himself that the job is his, even though on paper he lacks the knowledge and skills. He is asked how much he thinks he should get paid, he goes for a reverse strategy and gives a ridiculously high amount. His view is “You don’t ask – you don’t get.”
With the arrogant confidence they see something they didn’t see in you – potential. They decide to offer him the job and to top it off he gets the wage he agreed. In this scenario Aiming Higher worked.
Sure the situation could easily turn bad for John, he could start his job and realise he is over his head, doing a job that is a struggle. But how many times have you wished that you had pushed yourself a bit harder?
Getting the balance
“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star”
W. Clement Stone
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever”
How can you aim higher?
Writing 3000 words a day rather than 1000.
If you average 1700 a day you are doing 700 more.
Aiming to pursue 100 business leads instead of 20.
If you get 24 leads that is a benefit of four.
Deadlifting 200kg rather than 120kg.
If you lift 140kg that’s 20kg more.
Running 5k in 20 minutes rather than 25 minutes.
If you run it in 24 minutes, that’s still a minute faster.
Aiming for a 1st class honours at University rather than a 2:2.
You achieve a 1st class honours because when you were at 2:2 level you told yourself to aim higher, so you dedicated the time and effort towards studying.
Abraham Lincoln: Aiming Higher
In the face of history Abraham Lincoln is looked on as a prudent statesmen and successful ruler with a sense of fairness and liberty.
But how does a man extend to such greatness?
If you look back at Lincoln’s background you might get a glimpse of some of his greatness, partly which was created by his ability to aim higher.
But during the road that led to him becoming the leader of the United States you see a story of hard work, struggle and failure.
Lincoln had some big ambitions which often resulted in failure, but along that path despite many times missing the mark he made massive gains, that he wouldn’t have achieved if he had never aimed higher.
Lincoln himself described his parents family background as “undistinguished” and grew up in the wilds of Kentucky and Indiana – he had very little education with only the ability to read, write and cypher.
But he wasn’t content with this position and made efforts to aim higher, so while working on a farm he made time to read whatever he could get his hands on – The Bible, Aesop Fables, Shakespeare. A friend said that he got to a point where he had “read through every book he had ever heard of in that country, for a circuit of 50 miles”.
With this reading mastery he went on to become a Lawyer after a 1933 Illinois legislation that said to become a lawyer an individual had to “obtain a certificate procured from the court of an Illinois county certifying to the applicant’s good moral character.”
Using this simple loop-hole he went on to practice law in any area there was a case and was said to have a talent for simplifying his cases into key points and give logical arguments to the jury.
In his political career he suffered a number of defeats noticeably in 1855 where he did not get chosen by the Illinois legislature to become a U.S Senator and in 1856 Lincoln lost out on becoming the Vice-President nomination for the Republican party over William L. Dayton.
Lincoln had expected the defeat in 1856 to Dayton and although this plunged him into a fit of depression, he had managed to boost his profile with several prolific speeches and vigorous campaigning, making him the top Republican for Illinois.
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
Perhaps at this point doubt could have set in and Abe could have told himself “I am being too over ambitious here” But he didn’t let his failure from past high expectations stop him.
In 1860 Republicans chose to bypass a number of experienced powerful contenders in favour of Abraham Lincoln the Illinois lawyer with only the one congressional term experience as the Republican candidate for President of the United States.
The humble background of a man with a pioneer father and only one year of education as a boy went on to become the the 16th President of the United States and more famously for his role in leading the North to victory in the American Civil War.
Lincoln always aimed high and had the defeats to go with it – but with each failure he made improvements and increased his standing firstly to become an educate lawyer and then as a politician.
Imagine how different the world would be if Lincoln had not aimed higher – aspiring to be a businessman, a lawyer and politician and said to himself – “Let’s be realistic – I’m just a farm boy!”.
Aim High – What are the alternatives?
There are a number of arguments that we shouldn’t aim too high. These approaches I discuss below. The first is compromise.
Still aim higher:
- Think of a situation recently where you felt underwhelmed at an achievement – what would you do differently? Write these down.
Review the goals that you currently have.
If they don’t have a number to measure your end result apply one.
- If it’s not easy to quantify, aim higher with your goal by adjusting the time period (for example achieving result in three months to one month).
Look at the amount you have and increase it to an uncomfortable amount.
Ensure that your goals are as robust as possible to ensure the best success with aiming higher (Use SMART objectives to help develop these).
Apply your learning from the previous achievement with underwhelming results and use this knowledge to aim higher.
Reversal of the situation
Aim high – fail more, achieve more