I’m a regular listener of podcasts, I love TED talks, the Harvard Business Review, Planet Money, and Freakanomics to name a few. I also listen to “This America Life” and recently they published a podcast about Daniel Kish, who’s blind, but can navigate the world by clicking with his tongue; akin to sonar. It’s not that he hikes and rides a bike that got me thinking, it is his assertion that the low expectations of blind people and the people around them limit their potential. Daniel’s mother endured watching her son become bruised and bloody to allow him to develop the amazing navigation skills he has (poles are a real challenge for him, he’s literally run into some). Daniel’s mother put her fear aside gave him the freedom to experience the world. To fail and to succeed in it. Today, Daniel is world renowned for his abilities. Daniel is an exemplar of what not being limited by low expectations and being encouraged to push boundaries can achieve.
What’s that got to do with Freemasonry ? Obviously that low expectations limit our potential. We saw it last meeting at Devotion in reverse– we decided not to cancel a ceremony despite a poorly attended rehearsal. Critically the acting Deacon’s were at rehearsal and did well. We had high expectations of the ability of our team and they came up trumps with an excellent degree ceremony. We put aside our low expectations and fear of failure and did something which not only advanced a member – but invigorated the whole lodge through success. As they say, nothing succeeds like success, but sometimes we need to risk failure to get to that success. We do it in our lives, why so often don’t we do it in Freemasonry but stick to old familiar formulas and routines which sometimes shackle us?
We see low expectations all the time in Freemasonry; Masonic Centre’s can’t be viable unless they have a commercial component, 50% attendance is good, 50% retention of new candidates is great, and/or newer Freemasons should not be given a go because they are not experienced and might fail. These low expectations reinforce low results and are limiting our potential to succeed. When was last time you heard Freemasons talking about membership growth rather than contraction – it’s a very rare discussion… How often to Committees of Masonic Centre put their hand out to Grand Lodge rather than lifting their expectations of themselves and finding ways to financially succeed ? When was last time you saw a great company not be innovative or progressive and set high aspirational targets ? When was last time you saw someone exceptional accept mediocrity in themselves as their standard?Lodges and all good Freemasons need to try to continually set the bar higher in their endeavours and encourage (not berate or bully) members to continually have high aspirational targets for themselves. Indeed, most Past Master’s once struggled to learn a few lines of ritual (some still do!) but every Master, including our own current one, is someone who has set their target beyond their current abilities and steered their barque towards it. You can to.
Are you limiting you or your lodge’s potential because you set the bar too low ? Demand more, especially of yourself and inspire others to do likewise.
"When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either." - Leo Burnett