Are unrealistic expectations and quests for perfection ruining our lives?

By June 2, 2021 June 3rd, 2021 No Comments

High performance coach Ben Crowe spoke at Rise

“Expectation” is a  word killing the world, sports psychologist and high-performance coach Ben Crowe told the 1200 real estate agents attending the 2021 Rise Conference at the Melbourne Conference and Convention Centre.

Agents should set goals and have dreams, but the “only expectation should be to focus on what you can control”.

Ben’s advice came against a backdrop of an inaugural conference established to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of real estate agents who often struggle to cope with earnings expectations.

He cited and explained three significant trends in society today:

  • Connection: “Connect with yourself before you go to the outside world. Ask, who am I? By working out our stories, we learn to celebrate our imperfections and accept our faults.” 
  • Purpose: “Find more meaning and contribution in your life. Ask, what is my ‘why?’ Do you want to make money, or do you care about something that lights you up? 
  • Performance: “We are distracted by things we cannot control – the definition of anxiety or stress. Focus attention on what you can control. Avoid fear of failure or focusing only on the result.”

Ben, a former international director of sports marketing at Nike, warned agents against allowing only their sales results to give them confidence. “You can’t control results or your competitors,” he said. “Confidence comes from two places: Firstly, it’s your training, study and skills acquisition, and then adopting a performance mindset.”

In his presentation Competitive Advantage and Authenticity, Ben told agents the unconscious mind was ten times more powerful than the conscious mind because it controlled emotions and feelings. 

“The bad news is, you can’t directly control it,” he said, “but the good news is, it will do whatever the conscious mind tells it to do. If you decide to be calm, it’s impossible to be anxious. Of course, the opposite is true. So, accept the things you can’t control and focus back on the things you can.”

Agents should also take time to reflect on their lives, said Ben, who has worked with leading athletes, including world No.1 tennis player Ash Barty and surfing champion Steph Gilmore. 

“Our life story is not our life; it’s just our story,” he said. “You are the author of your own story. You can visualise the life you want to create yourself, and then write it. And you can also look back and recreate what has happened in your life as your biggest fan, not your biggest critic.”

However, Ben warned against creating self-worth based on the validation of others, and he quoted the American writer Mark Twain as saying, “the two most important days of your life are the day we are born and the day we find out why”.

The need for individuals to discover the “depth of meaning” in their lives and move from “expectation to appreciation” was one of the most significant challenges that societies faced today.

While social movements of the 60s and 80s had focused on conformity and materialism respectively, today the need to find purpose in our lives was pre-eminent – “to shift from ‘I’ to ‘we’; to go from achievement to fulfilment”. 

“Achievement without fulfilment is the greatest failure of life,” he observed, urging his audience to “connect back to the human you want to be”. 

“If you don’t, you’ll never be at peace; nothing will be enough,” he said. “Connection is why we are on the planet. It’s the reason why 3 billion people are on social media and why we can’t let go of our phones.”

Yet social media had become a damaging influence, instilling a belief that perfection was the norm and creating a culture of FOMO – fear of missing out. It had sparked a “shame epidemic” in which people thought of themselves as not good enough against the perfection of others.

“We need to take off this ridiculous perfection mask,” he said. “The antidote is to celebrate imperfection, especially our own. It is imperfection that connects us.”

Vulnerability was “our super-power,” said Ben. “If you lean into risk and emotional exposure, you’ll be more open-minded, curious, innovative, adaptive and compassionate, especially towards yourself.

“We are so frigging hard on ourselves – have a bit more self-acceptance and self-compassionate. When you embrace vulnerability as a strength, your life will turn around.”

This was not an easy task, Ben conceded, because the human race didn’t readily accept vulnerability or uncertainty. 

“We either decide our perspective or let the conditions of our environment determine our perspective,” he said. “If you decide your perspective right now, know this: This too shall pass… it’s your decisions – not the conditions – that determine your mindset, attitude and self-worth.

“The greatest growth comes from our darkest times,” he added. “It unlocks the most amazing humility and curiosity. Separate self-worth from your business card. The human you want to be is unchangeable and unconditional. Nothing will screw with that.”

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