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Until you do this, you have not even begun to explore your potential

January 02, 202414 min read


Until You Do This, You Have Not Even Begun To Explore Your Potential

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Take The Decade View

What Do McDonald’s Employee Wages Have to Do With Your Future?

We’re going to get your new year started right by thinking about how much employees at McDonald’s make.  Have you ever worked there?  Matthew Kelly talks about this in his book “Off Balance.”  What determines how much money you make, and therefore how valuable you probably are to McDonald’s?  A winning smile?  A can-do attitude?  Patience?  Speed and accuracy?  How good you look in that visor hat thing they have you wear?  Do they still wear those?  It’s the time horizon for which you’re responsible.  

If you work the drive up window and are therefore responsible for 90 seconds of progressing a customer through the line, you probably make minimum wage, which in Utah is $7.25/hour.  If you’re a shift manager, you’re responsible for an 8 hour time period and probably make around $15/hour.  If you are a store manager, you’re responsible for 3 months of progress and make around $20/hour.  If you’re a regional manager responsible for the next year of progress, you’d make around $40/hour and if you’re the CEO responsible for 20 years of progress or more, you make $20 million/year, or $10,000/hour.That’s a pretty big difference.  I started thinking “what if we paid doctors that way?”  Like the one responsible for keeping you alive for 10 minutes made minimum wage and the one responsible for keeping you in good health till you’re 90 made millions?  I quickly realized that you don’t want a trauma surgeon who makes minimum wage cutting you open to ‘have a look around’ and determine whether you’ll live for 10 more minutes.  But…here’s what I do think.  

What makes a cashier at the drive through at McDonald’s good at their job?  Maybe they’ve gotten good at discerning what people are saying through that tinny microphone and speaker.  Maybe they know how many seconds they have between cars and can fill up 2 drinks while the next car pulls forward.  I don’t really know.  They’re good at being friendly to jerks.  But there are things, and they should take pride in doing those things well.  But you don’t get to $10,000/hour by getting 1,000 x better at cashiering.

It’s still a 90 second stewardship.  You have to move up the hierarchy of time you’re responsible for in order to be more valuable to your employer.  The McDonald’s CEO doesn’t use his microphone listening skills to make $20 million.  But in medicine, we use treatments for short term problems that kill you quickly to treat long term problems that kill you slowly.  And it’s not working.  Drive-through skills are different than corporate leadership skills.  In order to put more years lived in good health into your life, you need the CEO timeline and perspective.

Do Things Differently

You need to do things differently than most people.

If you don’t want to shrink back as you get older and slowly stop living before you die, you need to do things differently than most people.  If you know this to be true, but are frustrated or feeling stuck or disappointed in yourself for not making the changes you know you need to make to create a different outcome for yourself, perhaps the problem is your time horizon.  Most people tend to overestimate what they’re able to get done in a day.  I know I’m guilty of this.  I always think I can get 16 important things done in the 16 hours that I’m awake.  And I, like, never do.  And I’m so surprised.

But while we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, we often underestimate what we can do in a week.  We sell ourselves short.  We know we only have 7 days and that we might be working on 5 of those days, so we don’t see how much opportunity there is to make an impact.  We also tend to overestimate what we can get done in a year, but underestimate what we can get done in a decade.

How To Change Your Trajectory

How to Change Your Trajectory

In his book “Off Balance,” Matthew Kelley says “If you want to change the trajectory of your career, change the period of time you deal with and think about.  If you want to change your life, change the period of time you think about

So, the first step is, don’t be in too much of a hurry to create the ideal life you have imagined.  Personal and professional satisfaction are built like a castle, one brick at a time.  We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a week. In the same way, we tend to overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in a decade.  

Take a decade view. Give yourself a decade to build the life you have imagined for yourself, one that is rich and overflowing with personal and professional satisfaction.  Until you take the decade view, until you begin to imagine and plan what you can do in a decade, you have not even begun to explore your potential."

When he keeps saying “career,” I’m thinking “health.”  If you want to change the trajectory of your health, change the period of time you deal with and think about.  And until you take the decade view, until you begin to imagine and plan what you can do in a decade, you have not even begun to explore your potential.  It’s so good.  

Have you begun to explore your potential?  Do you take the decade view?

There’s a sanskrit word I love that also kind of haunts me.  Haha.  I think it’s brilliant and I’m terrified of it.  Arambhashura.  Have you heard of it?  Congratulate yourself if you have.  You win the cool listener of the day award.  Arambhashura means to be a hero in the beginning.  Big talk and lots of fanfare when you start something, then tiptoe out the back door as soon as it gets hard.  A hero in the beginning only. Aramhashura.  Does it scare you, too?  

The ancient Romans also had a word for this.  It means stuck in the middle of a rugged mountain.  You were a hero in the beginning, got halfway up the mountain and stopped trying when things got tough.  The word for being in the middle is medius and a rugged mountain is ocris.  So starting out with enthusiasm and giving up in the middle of your journey up the rugged mountain is mediocrity.

Stop Focusing on the Outcome

What drives mediocrity or arambhashura?  It’s a good question.  I’ll bet you have some good answers.  I wish you could tell me what they are.  I think it could be lack of endurance training.  You haven’t developed stamina.  Maybe you get distracted by short term pleasures that keep backtracking you down the mountain.  But I think a big part of arambhashura is focusing on the end goal.  Visualizing success like everyone tells you to do.  Seeing the achievement as the solution to all of your problems.

Thinking you’ll be better in some way once you get to the top of the rugged mountain.  It’s not really a decade view, because you’re not thinking about the entirety of the journeyIf you want to be a hero in the end rather than the beginning, you have to be realistic about how hard every step of the journey is going to be.  You have to realize ahead of time that you’re going to come to a place where you want to quit.  Tiptoeing out the backdoor will sound mighty appealing.  What are you going to do then?  When you realize that the journey is the reward, rather than the destination, you can focus on the process rather than the outcome.

Ironically, perfectionism or having really high standards can lead to mediocrity.  We have to be willing to be bad at something when we first start.  Consistency doing behaviors that seem small in comparison to the grand achievement we’re trying to make is more important than doing big things.  A few little steps every single day is way better than a heroic effort once or twice followed by months or years of berating yourself for not being able to repeat that level of intensity. 

Realize What the Real Reward Is

Realize What The Real Reward Is

The outcome, the top of the rugged mountain, is still useful as a guiding star, but the real reward is in becoming the kind of person capable of getting to the top.  Whether you actually get there doesn’t really matter.  As long as you have become the kind of person who can.  And then you do.  I have this framed quote up in my house because I love it.  Jim Rohn says

“We all say that we want to succeed, but sooner or later our level of activity must equal our level of  intent.  Talking about achievement is one thing; making it happen is something altogether different.  Some people seem to take more joy in talking about success than they do in achieving it.  It is as though their ritualistic chant about someday lulls them into a false sense of security, and all the things that they should be doing and could be doing on any given day never seem to get done.  The consequences of this self-delusion have their own inevitable price.  Sooner or later the day will arrive when they will look back with regret at all those things they could have done, and meant to do, but left undone.  That is why we must push ourselves in the present to experience the milder pain of discipline.  We will all experience one pain or the other- the pain of discipline or the pain of regret- but the difference is that the pain of discipline weighs only ounces while the pain of regret weighs tons.” 

I don’t have that whole thing framed, just that the pain of discipline weighs ounces while the pain of regret weighs tons.  And I never thought about this till now, but I’m reading Joe Desena’s book “10 rules for resilience” right now and I was just trying to figure out where I could hang up a quote that I’ve heard him say in person before, but in the book he says: 

“I know the truth: everything is hard.  Life is hard.  Health is hard.  Burpees are hard.  Eating right is hard.  Honesty is hard.  Integrity is hard.  Changing habits is hard.  Parenting is hard.  Because my job puts me in such close contact with people who are desperate to transform their lives, I also have the unique privilege of seeing what else is hard:  obesity is hard.  Depression and anxiety are hard.  Complacency is hard.  Mediocrity is hard.  I tell everyone ‘choose your hard."

I love that so much, and I’m just now seeing a trend here with the choose your hard vs choose your pain and he even mentions mediocrity.  Mediocrity is hard.  Arambhashura is hard.  Being a hero in the beginning (rather than the end) is hard.  Being a hero in the end (rather than the beginning) is hard.  Getting to the top of the rugged mountain is hard.  Stopping halfway up the rugged mountain is hard.  Doing the things that other people don’t want to do is hard.   Working the drive up window is hard.  And making decisions that affect the 10 year future of a $201 billion corporation is hard.  Choose your hard.

It’s easy right now to do things that help us enjoy the next 5 minutes.  It’s hard right now to do the things that will help us enjoy the next 5 decades.  If we choose the easy right now, our next 5 decades will be exponentially harder.  If we choose the hard now, our next 5 decades will be exponentially easier.  

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

What are your health goals or other life goals?  What would change about the way you think about them if you took the decade view?  Rather than beating yourself up over what you haven’t been able to accomplish in 6 weeks- what could you accomplish in 10 years?  Like Matthew Kelley said, “until you take the decade view, until you begin to imagine and plan what you can do in a decade, you have not even begun to explore your potential.”  Don’t sell yourself short.  Begin to explore your potential.  

What can you imagine yourself being able to do in 10 years?  What feels most right to you?  What have you always wanted to do but don’t actually believe is possible for you?  It’s probably possible to do in 10 years.  Do you want to face the hard reality of all of the difficulties you’ll encounter on the way up that rugged mountain?  Or would you rather deal with the difficulty of mediocrity and the pain of regret?  The joy you’ll experience won’t come from achieving your goal but in the struggle to become the kind of person who can do that thing that’s calling to you.

Letting your dream fall on deaf ears is hardEventually it will stop whispering to you.  And that’s even harder.  Whatever your dream is, I promise you it will be easier to achieve if your cells are all functioning properly.  If your brain function is shaper than ever, your bones and muscles are strong, your inflammation is low and your energy is high.  You can create that reality.  Let’s get you 100% consistent following an intelligent plan to age like a professional so that you’re prepared to take the decade view of your life and choose your hard.

It’s about getting systematic about the highest leverage behaviors that drive the results that will get you where you want to be 10 years from now.  But not really.  It’s really about becoming the kind of person who can create that reality.  You can do it.  You can become that person.  I can help you.  It’s going to be hard and painful.  But not as hard and painful as not becoming her.

I love the Abraham Maslow quote that says “We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments.”  It’s scary to go all in and try to do something we’ve never been able to do before, like get 100% consistent with healthy behaviors.  And it’s scary not to.  Since I started reading “Off Balance” by Matthew Kelley, I started listening to a bunch of books by him.  He has one called “Building Better Families” and one called “In the Rhythm of Life” that I’ve listened to.  I like his perspective on things, he’s a devout Catholic, which I’m not, but I am religious and like his philosophies.  He has a ton of other books that I haven’t started yet. Anyhow, in “Off Balance,” he says

“Too often we think the life we want is unattainable.  In some ways that may be true.  But in other ways, it’s a complete myth.  Imagine the life you want to live.  It may seem impossible, but the tiniest sliver of it may be available to you right now.  Grasp it and enjoy it.  Before you know it, another slice of that life will become available.  Do the same.  Savor it.  Be grateful for it.  This is how lives are built.  You don’t go at a beautiful cake with a fork, you cut yourself a slice (large or small) and sit down to really enjoy it.  In the same way, the lives we want to live are built one slice at a time.  Stop waiting for the whole cake to present itself to you on a platter.” 

He also says “Too often we don’t know what we want.  We approach our lives with no strategy.  And in general, we’re hoping things will work out.  It’s time we took our destinies into our own hands.  We can’t sit around thinking, hoping, waiting for something wonderful to happen.  We need to take a proactive approach.  And to the extent that we do, everyone who crosses our path will benefit.”  So good.  I care about you taking the decade view of your life and choosing the hard of executing a strategic plan every day to biologically age more slowly than you are chronologically aging so that everyone who crosses your path will benefit.  

Come on over to my website at  or message me at if you’re ready to get consistent with your intelligent strategy.  Next week, we’re going to talk about why you want to stress yourself on purpose.  Until then, stop waiting for a whole cake to present itself to you on a platter, take the decade view, and don’t be normal.

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Christina Hackett, Pharm.D.

Healthspan Coach and founder of The Health Courage Collective

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