I was watching the show Strong, a 2016 reality tv competition where elite personal trainers pair up with women from various backgrounds to compete in extreme mental and physical challenges.
Something I immediately noticed was the distinction between the people there for personal development, and the people there for ego. The ones there for personal development were great and strategic teammates. They learned from not only their mistakes, but from other team’s mistakes as well, ultimately making them the strongest teams. The ones there for ego were too proud to admit their mistakes, therefore, the mistakes kept on occurring, and they ultimately alienated themselves from the others. These people struggled to focus on their own strengths and underperformed, as they were too focused on just being better than the others. This prompted a question in me, that I think many others need to ask themselves:
Are you trying to better yourself, or are you just trying to be better than somebody else?
This question does not just apply to fitness goals, but it applies to most things in life. Are your actions born out of jealousy? Competition? Feelings of inferiority? Or, are your actions born out a a genuine want or need for self improvement, and personal development?
Most of us are stuck with this pervasive idea that we need to be doing exactly what our peers are doing, but better. This idea here quashes our happiness. We are so focused on being like others, that we lose ourselves and our wants along the way.
We often feel like we are in competition with our peers, because we’ve endured an entire lifetime of comparison. Not only do external sources compare us to our peers, but we do it too. We measure our own personal success based upon how others are doing. In our minds, our progress is dependent on theirs.
Focus on YOUR path.
Some friendly competition can be healthy and even very encouraging. Some is not. When we get into the mindset that we ought to be superior to everyone else, problems arise.
If you’ve ever found yourself secretly happy at one of your friend’s losses because this means you’re doing better than them, you’re probably not as focused on your own path as you’d like to think.
If you look at your friend’s successes as a byproduct of luck, rather than hard work, you’re once again, probably not as focused on your own path as you’d like to think.
And, nothing happens overnight.
It’s inevitable to feel societal pressure to do certain things at a certain time. We all have those moments where we feel we’ve fallen behind others in our age group. Yet, it’s only once we let go of the idea that there is a timeline to life, that we can really begin enjoying it.
Any time I’m feeling down about where I am at in life, my partner reminds me that nothing happens overnight. It’s so easy to attribute success to luck, rather than to hard work. What you see clearly is somebody’s wins, their “overnight successes”. What you don’t pay attention to is the days, months, and years of hard work that they put in to their craft.
You may not be in the place you want to be right now, but eventually you will be. Good things take hard work, and someone else’s success does not jeopardize your own.
Focus on your own goals for your own personal development, and not for anyone else. No one will understand your ‘why’ like you do, but that’s okay, you don’t need them to. When we build each other up, and share in our journeys and our successes, we become that much stronger. When we stop thinking of someone else’s failure as our own success, and vice versa, we start living for ourselves.
Be happy when you see your friends, your family, and even strangers, winning. They’ve worked hard for what they’ve achieved, and you have much to learn from them. There is room for more than one person at the top and when your season of wins comes, it will feel incredible.