For most of my life, success meant being better than those you were competing against and EVERYTHING was a competition. I had turned achievement into a theory of relativity. My success was relative to comparing myself with others.
S=e/n Success equals my personal effort divided by the person nearest to me.
Okay, so it wouldn’t have made Einstein famous, but it was exactly how I thought. As long as I’m better, faster, stronger than those around me, I’m successful.
One of the many problems with this theory is that it requires you to stay in one place. As soon as you begin to move out of your sphere of influence, you encounter people better, faster, stronger than you are. At least, that’s what happened to me.
I had based my self-worth on my place among peers and colleagues. When those around me elevated and I didn’t, my place dropped and so did my view of me. I later learned a lesson I try to teach every chance I get and my heart jumped when I read about it in relation to a young runner.
Wesley Best (what a perfect name) is a world-class sprinter from Canada and while preparing to run in the world youth track-and-field championships, he stepped into a preparation meet against higher competition than he was used to and something changed.
“I had the mindset and I was ready to run,” said Best, “but once I got into the blocks, it was new people, new environment… I lost focus and was overwhelmed by everything.”
Sound familiar? Your surroundings change and it throws you off of what you do well.
Best has a great coach in his corner, Olympic medalist, Tony Sharpe, to help him learn the lesson I mentioned before and carry that experience into the world championships.
“You just have to run your race. You shouldn’t be focusing on the people next to you,” teaches Sharpe. “They’re focused on their race and aren’t worried about you. You just have to do your own thing.”
Yes, that’s it… Run Your Own Race. Do your best. Compete with your potential to see how good you can be. Do not base your worth on comparing yourself with others.
Not earth shattering, I know, but so important. Most of the world is based on relative achievement and is suffering because of it. When so many people and situations around us are seriously screwed up, it makes it really easy to feel good about ourselves. Need an example? Two words…
Why on earth would this stuff be on every channel? Because we will trade the opportunity to get better and do something productive with our lives for the opportunity to feel better by watching someone else’s over-hyped drama. “I might not be doing anything with my gifts and talent, but I’m not as jacked up as they are!”
Congratulations… we’ve made Mediocrity the new Success.
How about this? How about we rock the boat for a little while? Join with me and make the commitment to explore how good you can be. Pick something you like and go after it! Don’t worry about if you’ll be the best in the world or even your own house. Tune out the negative vibes from your bowling cronies or that snooty old lady at church. Be your best and see what happens.
And if you ARE one of the bowling cronies or snooty old ladies… try encouraging someone for a change! Seriously! Put all the energy into your own life and see what you’re capable of. I promise you… if you are the type that normally laughs at others dreams or finds a way to rain on every parade… you will absolutely freak people out when you change sides. Try it, you might get hooked.
Anyway, all rambling aside… the better you get, the better the people around you will become. That’s a good thing. We are all gifted with potential that cannot be extinguished in this life. You absolutely can’t burnout pursuing your best and I hope you’ll let me know what you plan to go after and be your best in.
Be your best,