PFA 023: #3 in the 11 most common rules to be awesome everyday is to ignore the little man


The Prepare for Awesome Podcast

Where I want to educate, inspire, motivate and empower you to strive higher, push further, give more, do more, be more as you become all you possibly can be.

PFA 023 Show Notes

On today’s show, we will be talking about ignoring the little man.  

#SelfBelief #PrepareForAwesome #11Rules #Educate #Inspire #Motivate #Empower #Podcast #PersonalDevelopment

Now I have borrowed this title from my friend Evan Carmichael, but I have not borrowed the content.  When I interviewed Evan back in episode 4 of the Prepare for Awesome podcast, Ignoring the Little Man was number 7 on his list of Top 10 Rules For Success.  If you haven’t heard that interview, I encourage you to go back there and have a listen using this link.

So what do I mean by ignoring the little man?

No matter what it is you want to do in life, whether personally or in business, you will always have people around you who are negative about you and what you are doing.  You know, those people who will say things like, ‘You can’t do that’ Or ‘That market is already over traded and no-one will see you.’  Or ‘Who do you think you are that people will take notice of you?’

That is the person I am talking about when I say the little man.  The person who puts you down.  The person who can’t see themselves doing it, so can’t see you doing it, whatever it is.  

They may be your family or your friends.  They could be your colleagues at work.  It may be your spouse or partner.  There is no gender stereotype.

They are just people who don’t think you are capable of changing, of chasing your dream, of becoming more than you are, of reaching your financial goal.  And they often want you and everyone else to know their opinion.

I am fairly sure you know the people in your life right now that I am talking about.  I can actually name them as I sharing this with you.  And they are family.  They are friends.  They are people I know in business.

But here’s the thing.  The little man is not just other people.  No, you can be your own little man.  The words you use to describe yourself.  The thoughts you think about yourself.  All of these things reveal the little man within you.

Have you ever done something and it has not worked out and then said to yourself, ‘I knew that would never work?’  Little man speaking  OR said something to someone and immediately though, ‘That was dumb?’  Again little man speaking.  Or maybe you have a dream of becoming an entrepreneur, lawyer, accountant, pilot, hairdresser, bridal dress designer, but you constantly think, ‘I can’t do that.  I can never learn that much.’  Yes, you guessed it, little man speaking.

We are often our own worst enemy when it comes to reaching our dreams or accomplishing the things in life we want.

So how then can you ignore the little man?

As many of you know, I am fascinated by the science around motivation, by neuroscience and all of those types of things.  Where science backs up the realities most people have instinctively known and so I want to chat with you about what is known as the science of the individual.

About a year ago, I came across an article which pointed to an issue which the US Air Force had in the 1950’s and the consequences of their research to solve the problem.

The problem they had was that at the dawn of the jet-age in military aircraft, the accident rate was abnormally high, but not through mechanical malfunction or, as they later discovered, pilot error, but due to the design of the aircraft cockpit.  And it was a problem which had its roots in a particular philosophy.  The philosophy of average!

Back in the late 1920’s when military aircraft cockpit’s were being purposefully designed for the first time, engineers in the USA used the physical measurements of hundreds of pilots and formulated the data they gathered into an average height, weight, arm length, leg length, etc.  These averages where then used to to standardise the dimensions of the cockpit.

These averages defined the height and width of the seat, the shape and size of the helmet, the distance the joystick sat from the crotch, how far the pedals were from the seat front and so on.  Everything in the cockpit was designed around these averages.  And would continue to be so until the early 1950’s.

Now lets be honest, that would make perfect sense today when taken at face value and made complete sense at the time because anthropology, the study of the human anatomy, at the time said it did.  The focus in the anthropology space was trying to classify the personalities of a group of people according to the average of their body types.  This school of thought suggested that the average size and shape of a person’s body were indicators of intelligence, moral value and future achievement.

This kind of thinking not only led to the dimensions of aircraft cockpits, but many other situations, including what we would likely think of as weird competitions, ideas and beliefs.  

One of the oddest I have come across took place in 1945, when the Cleveland Plain Dealer in association with the Cleveland Health Museum and Academy of Medicine amongst others, announced a contest.  The contest was for women to submit their body dimensions and the person who most closely matched the statue of the typical women, who was named Norma and had been sculpted from a set of averages gathered by gynecologist Dr Robert Dickinson, would win war bonds.

‘Norma’ was believed to represent what a normal women should look like because the data had been collected from 15 000 women and included many data points on the body.  

But here’s the really interesting thing about the outcomes of this contest.  There were 3864 contestants who had submitted their data on the 9 dimensions that were being measured.  The winner, Martha Skidmore a former war worker, came closest, but like all of the other women, was not average on most of the 9 dimensions.  In fact, only 40 of the women were average on as many as 5 of the 9 dimensions!

Not one of these women were average!

But back to our pilots and the US Air Force.  Once they discovered that it was the cockpits design which was the problem, the engineers decided to update their measurements of the pilots in the belief that average may have increased over the preceding 30 + years.  So they commissioned a study to measure 140 dimensions of the human body to determine the ‘new’ average for the average pilot.

Over 4000 young men had their chest circumferences, height, leg length, etc measured to get this new average.  It was thought at the time that the majority of the pilots would measure very close to the average in all the areas defined.

One researcher, Lt Gilbert Daniels, who doubted this would be the case was more stunned then almost everyone else.  In the 10 dimension most relevant to cockpit design, not one of the 4063 pilots measured fell within 30% of the average of each dimension.  Not one!  That fact still astounds me when I read it.


Because, like the contest with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, this study proved that there is no such thing as an average person.  There is no average pilot.  The is no normal ‘Norma.’  There is no ‘normal you.’

What they realised was that if you designed a cockpit for the average pilot, you are designing a cockpit for no one.
But you may be asking what does this have to do with ignoring the little man?

It actually has everything to do with it.  You see you are not average.  You were not born to be the same as everyone else.  You were born unique and special, with talents, capabilities and capacities that no-one else knows about.

The fact is, the little man wants you to be average Joe, just like they think they are.  They want you to be the same as him or her, particularly when they know you.

And when it comes to your thoughts and your words about yourself.  Remember your brains function is to protect you from harm and so it’s default is don’t take the chance.  Don’t do anything risky which could hurt you physically, emotionally or psychologically.

So if you want to ignore the little man, stop trying to be average.  The best way to shut the little man up both internally and externally, it to break the boundaries of the perceived average and become the best you can become in everything you do.

But how can you do that?  How can you break the boundaries of average?

Well here are 4 things you can do starting today.

Retrain you brain

Many people think they were born to be what they are, almost like average is inherent in their DNA.  You need to retrain your brain to understand that you were not born to be the way you are.  You have the power within you to change, to become better, to become more than average, to stand out. 
And yes, I am actually talking with you.  No matter what your family background is, no matter what your work history is, no matter what you success rate is, you can become better and rise above the level of mediocrity.  But only if you believe you can and then train your brain to recognise that fact.

(Actually) Do what it takes

If you want to ignore the little man, your actions have to reflect the belief you have.  Stop waiting around for someone’s permission to make a difference or for someone else to get the ball rolling.  Set a goal, create the action plan and then make that plan a reality.  Don’t sit around waiting for the opportunities to come to you.  Your ship will never come in.  You have to go fetch it.
It is amazing what happens within you when you begin to actually do what it takes to break the barriers of average and build toward excellence.  

Focus on the outcomes you want

The little man has the plans he or she want for you and they are way below what you deserve or are capable of.  So to ignore the little man, you need to focus on the outcomes you want and then to design the route to achieving those outcome to work for you.  Set time frames that suit you.  Set the milestones along the way which will help guide you to remain on course and on track in a way which suits you.
The little man will try to convince you other wise, but if you do this right, you will remain on track and will get to the outcomes you want.

Change the people you hang out with

As I said earlier, the little man is most often those people who think they know you well and are very often family and friends.  While it is impossible to change your family, you would be well served by changing your friends and hanging with people who support your new way of thinking and are like minded.
If you continue to hang around the same people, those same ‘little men’, you will almost certainly be back where you started and will have listened to the little man.

So there are 4 things you can do starting today which will dramatically change your life.

So that it for this episode.  Thanks for listening.  I look forward to chatting with you again in the next episode.

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Thanks again for your time today and I look forward to chatting with you on the next episode where I will again share with you ideas, tips and tools to help you become the best version of yourself you could possibly be.

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Have a great day.  And remember to be awesome today.

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