“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” ~ Michelangelo
I’ve previously acknowledged once being a Type-A, competitively driven, high achiever. It was part of my (younger) professional evolution. Many of us lived this and many still do. We are always becoming more. Who you are today is a result of the decisions you made yesterday. We are always in a state of creation. We decide and then we decide again, and the direction is always toward expansion. It is our human nature to expand.
It is years of evolution and social influences that have pitted us against our peers. I cut my career teeth on Wall Street. For ten years, I thrived in a dog-eat-dog environment. In the years since, gratefully, I have realized that the needs and desires that inspire us to compete with ourselves, are much more personal and more complex than those of competing against peers.
We awaken. A need to eclipse our earlier efforts – to confirm that we have grown as individuals – can motivate us to reach new heights of accomplishment. We find we can use our past achievements as a foundation from which we step into the unknown. Yet, if this drive to compete with our former selves is the result of low self-worth, even heaps of praise can be discouraging. Examining how we compete with ourselves opens us to new challenges that can often enhance our world.
There are plenty of reasons we try to surpass ourselves. Ambitious in our quest for growth, we strive to meet our own notions. We don’t seek external wins and losses to define our sense of self-worth. Instead, we become our own judges, monitoring our progress toward who we aspire to become; careful that our efforts are not to meet or exceed others standards.
If you believe that it’s not all about competing against others, here are three considerations to help you realize how it can be about taking pride in your progress (and thus, your growth) at any pace:
- You don’t have to have a dream (gasp!). If you have something that you’ve always dreamed of, go for it! After all, it’s something to do with your time. And if it’s a big enough one, it may take you most of your life to achieve it. But if you don’t have a dream, that’s okay. Instead, be passionate in your pursuit of short-term goals. Work with pride on whatever is the task at hand. And when you finish with that, focus on your next goal. Just make sure they’re your goals.
- Realize that you cannot always win. No matter what you do you can pretty much always find someone else that has more than you or is better at something than you. Is that really tough to accept? Does it always have to be a competition with others?
- It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing with their block of stone. The statue that they are creating is one of their own intentions. How well you are doing with your block of stone is your business.
Winning isn’t everything. Being you is.