Professional swimmer

Getting better every day.  Always learning and improving.  These are worthy ideals, a great way to pursue improvement.  How you go about this can be either can be motivating or demoralising.  It can create internal pressure, expectations, fear of failure or generate confidence, belief, enjoyment and satisfaction.

If we pursue perfectionism, the focus is on being perfect.  We want everything to be right, we care deeply about what others think and we create an expectation that we are not happy unless everything is perfect.  The cost comes in the worry, the benchmarking against others, and fear of making a mistake.  What would others think?  If I get it wrong, it is not good enough.  I can’t possibly put this document out in this state.  I have to make sure that this is flawless!

If we contrast the pursuit of excellence, the focus is on getting better every day.  On enjoying the journey not the destination.  The improvement is not driven by what others think or your expectation of needing to be perfect but more on the notion of getting better every day.  In other words, one percent improvements daily lead to staggering results over time.  Satisfaction comes internally as a result of the improvement.

The crucial difference to improvement is how the pursuit is undertaken.  Choose the one that is driven from within rather than driven by external validation.  The motivation that comes from an internal source will build you up, be invigorating and empower you while the other is unattainable which will be demoralising and lead to endless frustration.  To sum up, I will leave you with the following:

“Run your own race.  Who cares what others are doing or thinking about you.  The only question you should ask yourself is: Am I progressing?”