The goal is not perfection. The goal is to evolve. We can’t evolve by staying in our safe zone. We evolve by pushing our limits and failing.
Last weekend at my Life Coach Mastermind, I had the opportunity to hear, Tom Sterner, the author of the book “The Practicing Mind” speak. I had two big takeaways from his morning talk: (1) Enjoy the process. (2) Change the Focus.
Enjoy the process: enjoy the practicing, the daily tasks, the little things. Be in the moment. One example Tom gave that resonated with me was the example of a student practicing the piano. If s/he sits down with a new song and her goal is to play the song perfectly, she is only going to experience success when she plays the song perfectly (which might never happen). If, she sits down and her goal is to learn, she experiences success each and every time. Sure she’s making mistakes (aka failing) but the point of her experience is to practice. There are many areas where I already do enjoy the process: I love to run. Am I training for a race? To lose weight? To get in better shape? No, no, and no. I love getting out and experiencing the day, pushing myself or not pushing myself. Moving my body. I love reading with my son at night. Are we reading certain books so as to improve his literacy? To get him to read on his own? To make sure he reads with his own kids? Again, no, no, and no. I enjoy being close to him and winding down together at the end of the day. By focusing on the process, not the end product, I am able to enjoy the moments in my day without measuring myself to some elusive standard.
This is not easy to do in our society. Right now, kids are taking end of year tests where they are pushed to study and perform. The weeks before the tests were spent teaching specific material that will be on the test, in the way it would appear on the test (multiple choice, etc). The weeks following the tests are spent watching unrelated videos + cleaning out desks. Time is not spent on interesting facets of the subject matter. The goal is clear: Perform on the test. The goal is not about learning.
My second takeaway was to change my focus from perfection to expansion. Focus on the learning and the process. In doing so, we welcome failing into our life. We are more apt to try things that scare us because we are less critical of ourselves when we fail. In a recent Warrior On Fire podcast, Garrett J White advised us to push our limits. Sign up for things that scare us. I’ve often thought of fear as a superpower. When I feel it, it’s telling me: “Green Light Susie! Go!”. I’m more apt to push my limits if my goal is to suck less tomorrow than I did yesterday. If my goal is perfection, I’m going to stay in my safe box and pretend all is well. Find opportunities to push you. Failing is an opportunity to learn. Embrace the mantra: Do more. Fail More. Be More.
Where can you push yourself today? Where can you fail? Open yourself up to failure and open yourself up to opportunity and new experiences.