I once heard the saying, ‘Comparison is the thief of Joy’ (Theodore Roosevelt). It struck me at a time that was only too appropriate. We live in a world driven by success, by technology that is constantly emphasizing ‘more’…more followers, more attention; bigger and better. You can always go beyond; you can always progress. What you’ve done is good, but you can exceed that. While there is nothing wrong with self-improvement, and I am a huge proponent of always pushing our limits, there comes a point whereby we need to step away and get back to the basics; doing our best, at the moment, on the day; ultimately striving simply for happiness and self-fulfillment over ‘more’.
Comparison is the thief of Joy. When I heard this, I was comparing myself to my own past standards; points in my career whereby I’ve been at my best, having achieved small feats I’d never thought possible. So here I sit, having been through a few hurdles the past year that have proven both physically and mentally challenging; yet cutting myself very little slack. We can preach all day long the mottos ‘Mind over Matter’, ‘Anything is Possible’… but truly, realistically, what do these mean? I’ve battled the past months with struggling to hit some markers that I’ve set out for myself. Have these markers been a bit overly optimistic? Perhaps, but I’ve always said ‘No harm in aiming high; you’ll get the best out of yourself’. Just because the mind is willing doesn’t mean the body will always follow suit. On the flip side, I’ve accomplished a few things I’ve never done in the past. Set some new standards; maybe things I didn’t expect, but they’ve come along…yet those various PR’s still tug at the back of my mind, the gold standard for personal perfection. Through all of this, I have realized it is quite unhealthy to spend our time looking back. We can use our past to formulate our future, but to use it as a standard that must always be surpassed is not realistic, nor is it fair to ourselves. We can aim, but we must also accept and be grateful for what we have.
Being an athlete (professional or amateur) has got a multitude of redeeming qualities. It teaches us the value of self-betterment, how to challenge our bodies and our minds. How to put ourselves out there and take chances; face our fears, find new limits. It empowers us to achieve things we once thought impossible; it illustrates that without learning to take risk, success will elude us; that failure is largely a myth. Yet there are dangers in that it can carry us too far down the pipeline to perfection. Giving our best and being honest with ourselves, that is success; regardless of the time, place, result; these numbers are forgotten so quickly. Always remember the ‘why’ behind your actions and your goals. Sometimes it isn’t clear, and we have to dig a big deeper to know why we are on a certain path; we have to ask ourselves some more difficult questions.
I’ve learned that success is the ability to enjoy the path, keep your eyes firmly planted down the road, and let the small things roll off your shoulder. You know yourself better than anyone, if you let yourself in. When we can be true to ourselves, embrace the bumps along the way, and come out the other side smiling at the craziness of it all; then we are truly living. Life is short. Take it in stride. Keep your eyes firmly planted on the road ahead, and never forget what is most important…to you, and you are the only person in the world who knows what that is.