Unreasonable request…


“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

—George Bernard Shaw

Pay off the mortgage on your house within five years. Unreasonable.

Appear on the Today Show to promote your latest project. Unreasonable.

Get your cranky family members to promise to play nice with one another during the holidays. Are you for real?

What do you call unreasonable?

The problem is that most of us live “reasonable” lives. We look at what we CAN do and use that as a guide to what we WILL do. We shoot wildly to attain mediocrity.

But a life worth living is about setting unreasonable goals, doing unreasonable things to make them happen, and making unreasonable requests of people every day to stretch them to their undiscovered greatness.

Now there’s nothing wrong with reasonable … it’s just that it’s so … predictable. Plain. Average. Blah. When it comes time to lay back on your deathbed, what are you going to look back at? You retired with an adequate 401K? OK. Big deal.

Why should you settle for mediocrity? Why deprive the people around you of the ability and opportunity to be better than they think they are?

“Reasonable” thinking is a poor foundation for your future. It doesn’t bring out the best of who you are. If you want to enliven your teammates, your kids, your friends, here’s a surefire way to do it: make unreasonable requests of them. 

When a person comes face-to-face with and meets an unreasonable request, sometimes they react with fire in their belly.  Sometimes their life is altered forever. Sometimes they take the power and know that life can be all about facing a series of impossibilities that they will work to make possible. They develop a “bring it on” attitude to most everything.

And once you leap over tall buildings with a single bound, you know you can do it again. And again.
The normal and mundane is altered forever.

Ernest Shackleton, an explorer best known for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also remembered as the Endurance Expedition of 1914-1916, was a most unreasonable man.

When his prolonged recruiting process attempted without success to find people to sign on, he put this unreasonable request in an ad:

Men Wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.

—Sir Ernest Shackleton

Okay then. Who else wants to sign up for minimal pay with little chance of return accompanied with the probability of freezing to death? But the ad worked. More than 5,000 applicants applied for 50 available openings!

Why? Maybe because deep inside, we all want to be a part of something grand.

Reasonable goals are based on what’s been done before. But if it has been done before, how significant can doing it again be?

Most organizations set their goals based on what is reasonable: “If we grew eight percent last year, then we probably couldn’t do more than 10 percent. And if there is a recession, then… ”

That dog won’t hunt. If you choose to double profits in a few years, then you must do what is necessary to make that happen.

It inspires people to play a big game.

Over the years, I’ve seen over 70% of our clients double their profits—unheard of in the banking industry.

But this outcome is predictable when people sign up for a big game AND do what is necessary following a system that works.

So, what game do you choose to play?

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