Have you ever met someone who seemed to have their head on their shoulders and their feet on the ground?…someone who was just refreshingly humble and realistic?
If so, you probably met someone truly down-to-earth.
But the truth is these kinds of people are becoming rarer and rarer.
Modern media often makes us feel like we are exceptional, that we are destined for ‘big’ things.
As a result, many end up with their heads in the clouds.
To add insult to injury, they often feel free to tell everyone else what they are doing wrong, to exaggerate their successes, and to rub any success they experience in others’ faces.
This may sound harsh, but I was once one of these people. I have been more guilty of this than most.
It’s an easy trap to fall into, and more often than not, we don’t realize we are doing it.
We need to check ourselves to ensure we still have our feet on the ground.
With this in mind, I give you four behaviors that you may be doing because you have lost touch with reality. You need to ditch them if you want to be down-to-earth.
How many do you have?
Let’s find out.
1) Being unrealistic about what you can achieve in the short-term
“Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.” – Unknown.
Having big goals is great, but there’s a fine line between ambition and a complete disconnect from reality.
This is particularly true in entrepreneurship. We’ve all heard the stories of superachievers who built million-dollar businesses in a matter of months.
We’ve all seen ads for online courses promising financial freedom in no time at all.
Are these things possible? Yes.
Are they likely? Not even close.
While they make good headlines, these occurrences are the exceptions, not the rule, and those who achieve such overnight successes typically have a lot of luck along the way.
They could be compared to lottery winners, except we celebrate them and use them as examples of what we can all achieve if we really put our minds to it.
With all this stimulation, it’s no wonder many of us wildly overestimate what we can achieve, particularly in the short term.
As a result of constant media messaging, it’s easy to believe in overnight success.
This was a big one for me.
On starting businesses in the past, I now realize that my expectations were very far removed from reality.
I even told friends and family members about my grand ambitions. I am sure many thought I had lost the plot, but I was too blind to notice.
As you may have guessed, those first ventures didn’t work out. They failed without achieving anything close to what I had envisioned.
It was a tough lesson to swallow, not to mention a slightly embarrassing one. If only I had kept some perspective.
Ignore the noise.
Be painfully realistic about what you can get done, and even then, as bestselling author Greg McKeown advises, give yourself a buffer.
And for god’s sake, stop telling everyone that the side hustle you started yesterday will make you rich tomorrow.
2) Acting as though you have it all figured out
“Nothing is permanent but change.” – Elbert Hubbard.
Most of us strive to make sense of this chaotic life. So we justify our existence with beliefs and values. We create meaning and purpose to keep us sane.
For some, it means finding something to live for that is more important than themselves.
And sometimes, it works.
You might feel fulfilled and happy. And good for you if you do; you have achieved more than many.
With this, however, it can be tempting to think we have it all figured out.
You don’t. I don’t. None of us do.
And we sure as hell shouldn’t act like it.
We all have different experiences, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ for a good life.
While you may be happy at present, there may come a time when you will question and doubt everything you now believe in.
Experience is a brutal teacher.
If you feel like you have it figured out, be grateful for it. But be humble in your dealings with others in the knowledge that their experience is not yours, and no matter how much you think you have cracked code, change is inevitable.
3) Bragging about your achievements
“If you want people to think well of you, do not speak well of yourself.” ― Blaise Pascal.
This one should come as no surprise.
We’ve all had a friend or colleague who can’t stop banging on about their accomplishments. It gets old pretty quickly.
But can’t we be proud of ourselves sometimes?
Yes, we can.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of what we have achieved, but we should not constantly rub it in others’ faces.
People who are down-to-earth know that successes are temporary and that they will fail in the future.
They know that others may be going through hard times, even if they haven’t revealed it.
While our successes are inspiring to us, they often remind others of their failures.
Ditch the habit of bragging. Not only can it be selfish, but it’s also an obvious sign of insecurity.
Instead, be humble about your accomplishments.
Know that you will fail in the future, and when you do, you won’t want someone else bombarding you with their excessive self-pride.
The next and final behavior is a less obvious sign that we no longer have our feet on the ground but is one to watch out for nonetheless.
We’ve all been guilty of stretching the truth to add some color to our stories or to impress someone.
While this might seem quite harmless, it’s a slippery slope and is certainly not a trait common to down-to-earth people.
They know that true connections are built on shared experiences and relatable stories and that exaggerations undermine the integrity of relationships. These embellishments can even cause a loss of trust.
I once had a friend, well, a university classmate, more accurately, who would always come out with the most crazy stories. His stories were so exaggerated that they were almost impossible to believe.
People would listen and laugh at his stories, but no one took him seriously. Everyone thought he had his head in the clouds. He was, for want of a nicer word, the class clown.
I am sure the truth was there somewhere, but it got completely lost.
Most of us haven’t gone to these extremes.
However, if you have a habit of exaggerating things, challenge yourself to get out of the habit before it does get worse.
Just be honest.
While it may seem like it will make you less interesting, people will actually take you more seriously and respect you more.
The bottom line
Most of us want to be down-to-earth. More than that, most of us believe that we are.
However, with the way of the world today, it is easy to lose touch with reality.
More than ever, we need to be conscious of how rational our beliefs and plans are and how we communicate these to others as well as the narrative we tell ourselves.
As always, I hope you found this post enjoyable to read and that it has given you some food for thought on your journey to becoming a better you.
Until next time.