Create your own Scorecard
“It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character.”
Regardless of what you are currently telling yourself, you don’t know everything. You aren’t nearly as good as you think you are and you don’t have it all figured out. Most of your achievements are based on the help you received from others.
Reminding yourself of your fallibility does something important: keeps your Ego in check. Now you can focus on what you need to learn, gaps in your understanding and misconceptions you have, because there is always something to learn and new ways to grow.
One shared characteristic of how great people think is they find failure in every success and hold themselves to a standard higher than the masses. They don’t care what others think, they care if they hold to their own expectation of themselves.
Humility is a powerful force. It often feels like self inflicted torture, but it keeps the focus on moving forward, never settling and always striving.
Most of us have scorecards, often external, that we use to judge how well we are doing in life. This scoring method is analogous, how you are doing compared to your neighbors or co-workers. Sometimes a personal scorecard helps you track your external markers against last years performance. There is nothing wrong with having goals, measuring your striving towards those goals and seeing where you are. The trick is knowing when they are truly yours, when they aren't and what you are actually striving towards.
People can get lucky and win, assholes win all the time, especially in Development and Construction. But not everyone will end up being the best versions of themselves, often they become the opposite in pursuit of their goals. It is possible to get both, become your version of successful, including wealth, and become the best version of yourself. It’s just harder to attain and takes longer, but it tends to last longer too.
“The Big Question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard.
It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.”
When your metrics aren’t measured externally, when you fall on your face, because we all do, your perception of yourself stays proud and strong during defeat. When you take the ego out of the equation, other people’s opinions and external markers don’t matter.
Think of all the people who justify their actions as “not technically illegal”, do you want to be standing with that crowd? Or do you want to be among those that make the ethical choice when no one is watching.
Honestly, I’d rather be surrounded by those who I can trust to make the best, and often hardest, choice when I’m not around to convince them to the “right thing”. When you don’t have to be at the table fighting for your seat, because you know they’ve saved it for you.
The moral gray no man’s land between explicit immoral acts and those that are ethical is where most people get stuck, justifying their actions with external markers. Don’t do that. Holding your ego up against an internal predetermined ethical standard negates all the mental hand wringing, making unethical acts intolerable.
Someone who can see the long road doesn’t pity themselves during short term setbacks, stumbles or falls. Spending time pondering how they ended up where they are; whether it was a tactical error or something more systemic is not a bad idea.
When your ego whines “Why is this happening to me? How do I prove I’m still the best (greatest, smartest, fastest, strongest, etc)?” think of these questions as big red flags flapping in your face. This is a sign you need to step back. Continuing to dig a hole will only get you deeper into the hole.
“Act with fortitude and honor….
if you cannot reasonably hope for a favorable extrication,
do not plunge deeper.
Have the courage to make a full stop.”
Most trouble is temporary, unless you make it permanent.
This is why internal scorecards are vital. When you hold yourself to your own standards, you can see when you start digging down instead of building up, regardless of what it looks to the outside world.
Comebacks often take longer than we want, with no quick moving soundtrack or musical montage to make these lessons go faster, but these times are often when the deepest and most impactful lessons are learned.
History is full of people who have suffered failures and come back, using the hard won lessons learned as guideposts.
No matter how much you wish it to be different, you are not an immovable object or an unstoppable force of nature. You weren’t made to be more special, talented or unique than anyone else. There will be failure, setbacks and embarrassments. There will also be successes and wins. The faster you learn the lesson, get up and go again the quicker the tide will turn for you.
Know how to stop digging your hole deeper, how to come to a complete stop and reassess where you are. If you decide that you are done and it makes more sense to stop; go back to first principles; break the problem into basic elements.
Once you find your error, fix it no matter how long it takes or how hard it is. Then start reassembling your life from the ground up. Do that. It takes less time than holding onto something that’s not working or will fail because there are systemic issues.
When you live your life based on an internal scorecard you are more likely to move quickly when something’s not working, instead of hiding the issue or hoping it will go away. Red flags are heeded and dealt with. Projects are deconstructed, examined and reassembled.
Emotional Intelligence, specifically Self Awareness, helps create a framework to start building from. EI creates a solid foundation of first principles to return to when you are feeling a little unsettled and rudderless.
People who are Emotional “Intelligent” generally possess more intrinsic (internal) motivation and drive towards their own goals. Note that I wrote “generally”; becoming emotionally intelligent is not something one achieves, like obtaining a degree or certificate. They are a skill set that strengthen with use and weaken when ignored. If you are depleted, stressed out or feeling low you will naturally become more reactive and less “emotionally intelligent.” The strength lies in understanding that this is how you will react, so you take proactive steps to mitigate bad behavior or choices.
If emotions and psychology make you uncomfortable another place to look for first principles is Stoicism, the ancient school of philosophy that taught the highest good is based on knowledge (as opposed to emotions), the wise live in harmony with Reason and are indifferent to the twists and turns of fortune, pleasure and pain.
Emotional Intelligence and Stoicism are two sides of the same coin. It doesn’t matter which side of the coin you choose; there are no wrong answers, only right answers for you, as long as they are truly your own and no one else's.
Start with your own First Principles rather than analogy, which compares two things (good vs bad; you vs me; us vs them).
First Principles are fundamental truths that we know are true.
Use these as your base and “reason up” to build your framework. Stopping often to ask yourself:
Why do I want this?
Why do I think that?
Can I remove any preconceived notions around this?
Doing so may uncover analogous and predetermined thinking you weren’t even aware of.