Life must be understood backwards; but… it must be lived forward. – Soren Kierkegaard
You’ve heard the question before, “On a scale between 1- 10, how would you rate fill in the blank?”
Although somewhat arbitrary, this rating system does provide a good snapshot for discerning how you feel about a particular person, thing or issue. However, the most important component with this rating scale isn’t determining the numerical value you give, but how that numerical value can be improved.
For example, let’s say the question is “On a scale between 1- 10, how would you rate your effectiveness as a parent?” Perhaps your answer is, “A seven.”
Not bad. Being a seven is pretty good. In fact, there are a lot of effective parents who would rate themselves as a seven. But, imagine if you were trending towards a 10? Think of the opportunities and resources you could provide your children. Think about how you would feel about yourself.
Next, how would you rate your overall personal development? Are you achieving your goals? What is the level of happiness, achievement and success you feel in your life right now?
Whatever your answers happen to be, these numerical values can be improved if you choose – beginning today.
Moving to a 10
In the example above, let’s assume your answer is “seven.” Ask yourself what would be three things you could do to become a 10. Likewise, if the answer you gave was a “six,” the next step would be to identify four things you could do to become a 10, etc.
A word of caution: Learning to become a 10 does not imply being a 10 makes you perfect. It just means you are learning to maximize your talents and efforts to the best of your ability. It just means you are looking for ways to continue to grow and succeed. Perfection is impossible. There are no perfect 10s in life; just the pursuit of them, which is of remarkable value.
Acknowledge what’s keeping you stuck
The most significant obstacle that keeps us from moving up the rating scale is we get stuck. We get stuck with being a six as a spouse; our careers are at a five; and our level of happiness is at a three.
We get locked into a pattern and sometimes see no escape. We begin to think that what we have in life is what we have in life and there are no other opportunities. Sometimes we need the heavy roof that hangs over our heads to weaken, if only a little, in order to create a pin-hole small enough that a beam of light can peer through to remind us that hope lives on the other side.
In the absence of this small miracle, we must create the pin-hole ourselves. We must make the decision – the choice, to pick up our heavy boots and move forward. The pain of not knowing how to do so weighs us down. However, the mud can be knocked off and the beam of light can begin to poke through when we surrender our anxiety and replace it with hope and courage.
You must make the choice to ask a question like, “What are the three things I can do to become a better spouse or partner?”
Make a plan
The answer to this question begins with acknowledging what you do well, as a partner. If you don’t know, ask. Find out the areas where you achieve. Ask your partner how he or she would rate you.
After your partner provides the answer, allow the rating to resonate with you for a while. Then ask (assuming you received a “six,” in this scenario), what are the six things you do well.
Take these in and soak up their value. Next, ask for the four things needed to be a better partner. Bingo – here is your plan. Rather than assuming what you need to do, your partner is telling you, first hand, to do these specific things.
You have a place to start now. These four items are not a report card; they are expressed wants and expectations of you. You get to choose if you want to begin doing these things or not.
Learn to become a 10 in all areas of your life
This exercise is not just confined to your personal relationships. You can extend it to all areas of your life by following the same process.
At work, ask your co-workers and supervisor to give their ratings. Recognize the areas where you are being effective and attempt to do more of those things. Likewise, ask for the feedback. Ask for the three, four or five things you could do that would help you and motivate you to achieve your professional goals.
Finally, rate yourself on a scale between 1-10. When you have a quiet moment, ask, “How happy am I, really?” Don’t rush yourself and be as real with yourself as you can to arrive at an answer.
If it’s a “three,” then it’s a three; this doesn’t mean it always has to be a three, it just means it’s a three right now. Also, a three doesn’t mean you are being ineffective, it just means you could learn to increase and sustain your level of happiness.
Follow the process and take a look at the areas of your life that are making you happy. Perhaps you could put more time into these areas. Next, make a plan. Identify the six or seven things that you could do that would make your happier. Don’t wait on any one else to bring you happiness – you must go after it!
Learning to become a 10 is a process. The reality is you will never give yourself 10s across the board, nor should you. That’s not the point.
The point is to keep nourishing what’s working in your life, and do more of that. And at the same time, identify areas that could lead to greater personal growth and then begin to make a plan. There is tremendous value in recognizing what you would like to change in your life. This is all the whole point of moving from to a 10.