Picture this scenario, it’s 3am and you’re overwhelmed by the demands of life. Your friends are asleep, yet, you remain wide awake chasing a dream. Your ambition tells you that success is on the horizon. Doubt, fear, and insecurity stare down your throat and the pressure to prevail is on your shoulders. What do you do? How do you remain resilient? How do you tap into your reservoir of greatness? Where will the last ounce of energy required to finish the task come from?
If you’re like me, then you have been in this situation before. In fact, you’re looking for the answer to the above questions daily. You often find yourself pressed against the wall of struggle, while your friends enjoy the rewards of casually moving throughout life. While you evaluate the benefits of delayed gratification, the universe is shifting its power in your direction. The sweat, labor and time invested in your dreams are beginning to transform into reality.
However, things aren’t occurring overnight and your worst enemy is the person that stands before you now. It’s called the “You vs. Yourself” perspective and it’s real. Every great person faces it. The first step in understanding the “You vs. Yourself” phenomenon requires that you recognize your false perceptions of the competition. Contrary to popular belief, the competition isn’t necessarily your neighbor or your current supervisor. Your competitors aren’t necessarily the billionaires you read about in popular magazines. Surprisingly, your parents don’t serve as the competitors either.
The only competitor that is relevant is you. Whenever you wake up in the morning and stare at yourself in the mirror, you have to ask one question, “Did I do everything I could have done, to maximize yesterday?” Anything beyond an emphatic “Yes!” requires that you go back to the drawing board. Many people walk throughout life comparing themselves to celebrities and imaginary leaders as an evaluative tool. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they don’t create their own standards and live by their own rules. They create their lives in the shadows of others, without personal accountability or motivation.
They forfeit their dreams in the pursuit of making others happy. Don’t fall into the trap many Americans overwhelmingly succumb to, live your life on your own terms and define your destiny. Become the sole author of your life, and write the manual to greatness.
When asked about his iconic image, Will Smith responded, “I want to represent an idea, I want to represent possibility.” Take a note from Will Smith, and live your life on your own terms, with your own standards. Recognize that your greatest cheerleader, advocate, supporter, and critic will always be self. In 2002, Gatorade published an incredible commercial featuring Michael Jordan titled, “23 vs. 39.”
The younger Michael Jordan is represented as the charismatic Chicago Bull newly minted into the NBA. The 23-year-old Mike competes against his older, more seasoned archenemy, 39-year-old Michael. Both players represent opposing spectra of greatness, and two very different teams, the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.
The fascinating discovery is that Gatorade captures the core essence of what it means to battle self, while inspiring the will to win within. The one-on-one match also highlights a more important point relevant to the “You vs. Yourself” concept. The game is set against the backdrop of darkness. The only visible images are those of one basketball goal, two players, and one identity. In retrospect, this is life. Against the backdrop of success, linger darkness and isolation. Successful people understand the importance of challenge within a vacuum.
They recognize the biggest and most fierce competitor is the person you interface with 24/7. It’s you. The game of life will come with extras, however, when the clock winds down, the lights turn on, and the crowd disappears, you find yourself on the free-throw line of life with one shot. This is when all of the practice, work, preparation, and discipline matter. What will happen when fatigue, desperation, the exhaustion of resources, and acidic sweat attempt to run interference between you and success? What will you do? How will you respond? How will you finish the game?
Terrance Range | Elite.