Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for never assuming I was the smartest or best.
Day #11 – A Little Humility Goes a Long Way
Here is the thing:
– I am not the fastest runner
– I am not the best engineer
– I am not the most talented musician
– I am not the best writer
– etc …
And I never will be.
And you know what? That is OK.
I know some people who seem to spend their life in an endless quest to convince everyone that they are the best, smartest, most talented, or whatever. It is a fruitless quest – because there is ALWAYS someone better than you. I remember my freshman year in college where everyone in my class had been the best at math and physics in their high school … and suddenly were surrounded by thousands of others in the same position. I thought it was awesome – but realized many didn’t share my enthusiasm.
I have also seen some who realize that there is someone better than them at something and more or less give up. It is a sort of ‘if I can’t be best, why bother?’ attitude … to which I reply – you’ll NEVER be the absolute best, but you can probably be pretty darn good if you keep at it.
So what? I honestly believe the stress and energy spent figuring out who is better than whom takes a huge toll on us as people, on our communities and on the companies we work for. Rather than positively contributing to a team effort, we are battling for the most credit, or the top position … and while in some areas that can produce positive results, in most it is detrimental.
My solution? Keep your focus on being the best YOU that you can be.
How do you feel about humility and motivation?
When in doubt … Star Wars!
In the Coldplay song Lost there is a line that says “You might be a big fish, in a little pond/doesn’t mean you’ve won/cause you know they found/a bigger one.” That song came out at a very poignant moment for me–I was at a horse show (traveling–staying there for 2 weeks) and I had to share a suite with one of the snobbiest, most….I can’t even put it into words right now but she was a big fish, in a big pond, and she was incredibly gifted, but I would just sing those words to myself whenever she would get on my nerves. Humility, grace, respect. We all live together, we all have strengths. We should learn to respect each other for those and to enable and facilitate each other.
Never heard the Coldplay song (maybe I have, but I never really pay attention to words in songs … ), but that sentiment is very much true – there are those who seek to be #1 … even if there are only 2 or 3 people there. That type of person will always be around, but the big thing is in how we deal with them – do we let them influence how we live, or do we let them have their own little miserable fiefdom … 🙂
You are absolutely right that its a waste of energy to focus on comparing yourself to others. Focusing on being your own best is what matters. I think that is why I was drawn to running, where you are typically just trying to run the best you can on each particular day. I always felt frustrated in team sports and dancing when it was all about winning and beating someone else. Even though I know there will always be other runners who are faster I can still focus on accomplishing my own personal goals and records.
I think that the challenge is to seek to find the joy in competitive sports without being competitive.
I also see that in running – and running blogs – there are many very competitive people who DO either intentionally or not apply the ‘big fish small pond’ rules to whatever they are doing. It is very awkward and uncomfortable to read those blog entries from people, especially when they are people I generally like but know that the hyper-competitive stuff breaks through occasionally 🙂
I loved reading what Meb said after the Olympics and after NYC about finishing 4th (and about last year’s NYC, finishing 21st), knowing he wouldn’t PR, being fairly certain he wouldn’t medal or be in the money, but running to win for himself, but “winning” meaning just doing his best. I certainly understand elites dropping out of races and taking a DNF if they’re not going to finish in the money because it’s their career, better to save the legs for another effort, but it takes a lot of strength to be near the top, realize there’s someone better, and to still just worry about your own race. My mom always said comparison is the thief of joy, and it’s so true.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” is truly a priceless expression. I use it with my kids – because especially in the ‘internet age’ you can REALLY see that there are others out there better than you … but it can backfire and make you feel bad about yourself.
Absolutely true. I always remind myself before a race that I’m racing against myself, and not anybody else. I’m DEFINITELY not super fast, but I’m faster than I used to be, and that’s awesome.
I have loved reading your progress – and you are right, you ARE awesome. It doesn’t matter whether YOUR fast is faster or slower than someone else’s fast … it is just that you are doing the best you can and having fun along the way! 🙂
I wish more people thought this way!
I’ve always found comfort in knowing I’m not the best at something. When someone is a better runner, lifter, program associate, whatever it is than me, I just find it inspiring. It’s what motivates me to push myself to be better and wonder what my limits are.
Maybe those who don’t think this way just don’t want to grow?
I think that for many people as kids they were told again that they could be anything and do anything, as though limits were just for other people … of course that isn’t true, and eventually reality smacks us all in the face. Seeing someone better reminds people that they DO in fact have limits, which sometimes people see as a threat to their own abilities.
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