I believe competitiveness to be an innate part of human nature. If you’re an advocate of the theory of evolution, then you must agree that although many of us aren’t necessarily fighting and evolving in order to survive, we nevertheless have the instinct to outdo others and a hunger to come out on top.
This is why we do what we do. I am certain that all of you have something that you are passionate about — whether it be your career, your education, your hobby that you are secretly turning into your career or your sneaker collection. Whatever your passion may be, if it allows for competition you no doubt feel a need to be competitive.
Many of us, though feeling the pinch, don’t have the drive to compete. Drive is also a part of our natural being; if you don’t have it then you most likely haven’t found something you’re passionate enough about — or you’re just lazy. For those of us who are driven, the battles that we have already fought are only the beginning.
Chances are that whatever art or vocation fuels our existence will continue to force us to push ourselves past our limitations — limitations that in reality only exist inside our minds.
If you do anything for long enough you will notice that there are times when progress either seems sluggish or even nonexistent. That is just the way things work — in order for there to be progress you need more than just your drive. You may be working your hardest in order to make it to the next stepping stone, putting in the hours, breaking a sweat, yet to no avail.
There are many reasons why this could be. For starters, you may be working wrong. Sometimes putting in additional hours isn’t the right answer; sometimes you need to work fewer hours, allowing for more rest, making the hours that you do work more efficient. This, however, is still not enough to see progress. The truth is that you alone are not enough for progress to manifest — there are other factors.
You shouldn’t confuse improvement with progress. Yes, it is a sort of progress, but it isn’t the sort that we are interested in. We are interested in seeing progress in the form of recognition received for our improvements. Improving comes with its own gratification, but the gratification that we are really yearning for is the kind that can only be provided from outside ourselves: recognition.
With that being said, the only time that we truly experience progress is when all factors — inner and outer — align. Yet, we will find that this alignment isn’t an everyday phenomenon. We may very well find that we are having trouble progressing.
We may either find difficulty with personal improvement or we may find that although we feel that we have been making improvements, we aren’t getting the recognition that we believe we ought to be getting.
All I can say is that if you feel that you are improving your skills and improving yourself, then keep doing what you are doing — the stars will eventually align in your favor. For those of you that feel that you have reached your limit, reached the peak of your career, then the only thing that I can tell you is that — without a doubt — you are wrong. Being human means that we have our limits.
But the limits that we have aren’t limits in potential progress — only available time limits that. The limits that we are subject to are only in relevance to our intellect, our IQ, our processing speed. A faster processor will allow you to make personal improvements faster, will allow you to learn faster. So yes, it may take you twice as long to learn a skill of your trade than your competitor, but keep in mind: you’re not running a race; you’re running a marathon.
Just because someone has a top running speed of 100mph doesn’t mean that they have the will to continue running. The road to success isn’t flat. There are hills, potholes, curves and unexpected detours. There is so much shit along the path that most people take an exit way before they reach their hoped-for destination. So don’t stress yourself if you know you can only run 50mph.
When the much faster competitors give up only three hours in, it may take you six hours to reach their exiting point, but as long as you only glance at their exit while you pass it — you have already won. The only limitations we have are found in the speed of our improvement; there are no limits to how far you can run as long as you keep on running.
Nevertheless, we will sometimes find ourselves atop a plateau. Plateauing is a part of life — you can surpass it as long as you take it for what it is: a break from improvement or progress, not your limit. There of course are several factors that will contribute to reaching a plateau. Generally speaking, you will reach a plateau when either you have burned yourself out and aren’t able to improve for the time being or when the rest of the world isn’t willing to recognize your greatness.
All that plateauing is, is a period of time when your stars aren’t setting themselves up in the order you need them to. Like all things in life, it will pass; you will get past the plateau as long as you stay focused and determined to reach the end of the road. There’s no need to floor the gas pedal — it’s much better to take things at a comfortable pace when circumstances allow it.
If you are passionate enough about anything then you will come to realize that the joy you receive from doing what you are doing is what makes the whole trip worthwhile. It isn’t the end goal that you will remember the day you die; it will be the road that you took to get there. So run at your own pace — just never stop running.
Paul Hudson | Elite.
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