I’m currently reading an excellent book that provides an abundance of practical applications for life. Although many of the ideas feel or seem like no- brainers, somehow while reading through them it’s almost as if I am learning for the first time and that is what I hope to discuss this week. The idea and need for continuous learning and growth.
I’ve recently found myself having several conversations around the idea of winning vs. losing. As you already know I am a runner and therefore encompass somewhat of a competitive spirit. Whether with sport, my personal life, my professional life, etc. … it is important for me to do the best I can at all times. But like most of us have grown to know, we can’t and won't win everything we try. And honestly who would want to? You know that old phrase, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”? Well, that’s exactly what I mean when I ask who would want to. Who would want to let go of the ever present desire to want to do better and be better. To learn and to grow at all times. I am not denying that to be the smartest person, or the fastest person, or the strongest, etc. ... in a particular situation, isn’t a major accomplishment to be celebrated and acknowledged but think about it, if you are the absolute best at whatever it is that you are doing all of the time, how does that mindset subsequently leave room for the abundance of potential greatness that still lies deep inside you.
Understanding the idea that there is always something to learn no matter what stage in life we are in is one of the most crucial elements for self-development. It’s difficult because somehow as children we’re conditioned to this preconceived notion that adults seemingly know it all yet as we start to grow older we are interestingly faced with the fact that this honestly isn’t the case. What becomes understood as true then is that adults, by way of life experience, know more than children but they do not in any way KNOW IT ALL.
Truly successful people know this and therefore embrace the journey to learn and consistently improve throughout time for everything it is worth.
Take your favorite Olympic athlete for example. I think it’s pretty safe to say, and we can all agree, that anyone competing at the Olympic level is unequivocally one of the best athletes in the world. So why is it that when an interview is granted you hear nearly every athlete, at one point or another, say “there’s still so much work to do?” I just heard Kerri Walsh- Jennings say it last night after winning the second round preliminaries in Beach Volleyball. And just to be clear we are talking about 3 time Olympic Gold Medalist who’s never lost a match in Olympic competition. She and her partner April Ross literally just defeated China, nearly uncontested, yet "there's still so much to do". It's the idea that no matter how great her game is she can always be better and that is why she returns to these games time and time again to the top of the podium. I can’t express how powerful those words were and this concept is.
I'm sure I could come up with a variety of additional examples and positions that reflect this exact sentiment but I am sure you have a few of your own to reflect upon as well. I encourage you to take note of what stands out personally for you and use it as a guide/ formula for creating the same levels of hunger in your own life. I'm obsessed with the Olympics so the athletes and drawing this specific parallel make perfect sense to me but maybe your example is your mother, father, a former teacher, CEO, favorite Actor, Dancer, Musician, etc.
Often times we think that because we have mastered a specific course or technique, managed to climb the corporate ladder, are the recipient of esteemed awards, degrees, or certifications that the work is done and we are forever expert authorities in all we do. Sure, these accomplishments might give us the upper hand in certain areas in our life but to say we know it all by way of having them keeps us from recognizing our full potential.
So just what is your full potential?
I know for myself winning is more about the journey of the accomplishment rather than where I end up on the podium. My measurements of success include the knowledge I have gained throughout the process, the relationships I have made, the impact I’ve created, the obstacles I’ve overcome, etc. … whether I come in first or last is truly irrelevant because everything else I have gained is worth its weight in gold.
The truth of the matter is, is that no matter how good we are or how many accolades we have there is always more to know. More to do. And more to be. That hunger is something we must never forget to feed.
Therefore, I challenge you this week to ask yourself each day how you can improve with one designated task. Perhaps it’s the amount of hours you sleep at night, the attention you pay to detail in your management reports, the conversations you have with your loved ones. Nothing is too small and it could be the same task each day until it becomes a habit. The formula you decide on is up to you so long as you are consistently putting in the work every day. Write them down and keep a running log in your journal so you can keep track and begin to count your successes. The idea is to recognize that nearly everything holds the potential and space to for more greatness. Pretty soon you should notice a domino effect across all areas of your life where quality is at an all-time high.
Feed every opportunity you can and watch as you start to live your best life. Remembering you don't have to be an Olympian to manifest the greatness your life deserves.
“If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” -Unknown