I feel there is just way to much time these days spent focusing on other people’s versions of success. We look to the ‘successes’ of other people, often displayed in all its unashamed glory on social media, and we desperately want to see the same in our own lives. Rather than motivating us however, it often makes us feel inadequate. Rather than feeling empowered to do the same we often are left feeling disempowered. Everything is displayed as perfect, yet we know that each of us is imperfect. How can we ever get to be that perfect? Clearly these people are endowed with immutable attributes most of us are short on.
It’s Basically A Lie
One thing I have realised personally over the past several years, is that what is often portrayed as success on social media is a far cry from reality. Knowing some of these so called ‘successful’ people personally — people I would have in the past labelled myself as successful — my realisation has been that most of what they post is optimised to create a carefully crafted impression. Behind the scenes, they are no where near the kind of people they often portray themselves to be as the “I have made it” social media landscape suggests.
Now, I am not saying don’t admire people for their achievements. But the fuzzy feeling you get from looking up at someone, still doesn’t replace the reality of you doing the work. There are people I respect in this world, and people I learn from, but even then, what I know is that at the end of the day my success is in my hands and no one else’s. I am not the kind of person to hero worship anyone. We are all to some degree failures, trying to be a success. You might be a success in one thing, but a failure in ten other things. Life is way to complicated, unpredictable and nuanced to be anything other than a beautiful journey of imperfection.
How I Approach My Martial Arts Experience
Which brings me to martial arts, and the success I try to work towards achieving in my own personal game. There are people who admire me for what I have, but to be truthful, my success is a roller coaster ride. Some days I am on, some days I am flat, and some months I am plagued by injuries. I could quit easily hide this on social media, by always showing when I win and when I am on top. You might then think that I am somehow different to you, because I always seem to get everything right.
But, the truth is, and what I have learned is that success is constant iterations in an attempt to move forward, but sometimes going backwards is success too. At times I have had to fail, in order to go forward. At times I have had to learn that taking a break was needed to supercharge my game. Sometimes, I have had to fight not wanting to go to train, to realize that on those days were my best performances.
Success Isn’t a Straight Line
The truth is, if they like to admit it or not, all successful people, or what ever that really means in the end, meander to their end goal, no matter how neatly in the end they say they got there. If there is anything that truly separates those who do, from those who don’t, it’s grit. Grit is the ability to dig deep even when you don’t want too. Grit is about carrying on, even when you really feel like all has ended. It’s not a secret power some have and some don’t, its an attitude. Grit is about consistently moving in the direction you have intended too, even if that means going around the block a few times.
If anything, grit is really about doing better today than you did yesterday, based on your own personal performance and no one else’s. Grit is just doing it today, even though yesterday you may have utterly failed. Grit is just doing it today, even though you really don’t want to. The problem isn’t that most people fail, the problem is that most people never start. And when you do start, it’s not going to be neatly laid out and clean sailing to the finishing line. In fact, when you do get to the finish line, you may learn that the goal post has been conveniently moved without your permission.
But that’s also what makes it fun. Without the downs there are no ups, and up might just mean a little further. But in the end, no amount of admiration for anyone else, for what they have achieved, or even attempting to copy them will get you to where you truly want to be.
Because it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. Their journey won’t be like yours, and their journey which may often be portrayed as perfection is basically a lie. In other words, stop focusing on what other people can do or have, and ask yourself what can you do today to be just that little bit better than your self from yesterday. Yesterday could have been a loss, today simply a draw. But that’s all that really counts, and it is those successive moments that will matter in the ———— end.
But here’s the thing: the end, will never be the end. Perfection is an illusion. The only thing that is real, is that everything is perfectly impermanent, just the way it is meant to be.
Just enjoy the ride!