When I was in high school, the XBox had recently come out and everyone was obsessed with Halo. Some of my friends were phenomenal at the game, and on the occasions that I would play with them, I would frequently get pretty harshly dominated. This would be pretty frustrating, until I would go and play with someone else… and it turns out I was pretty decent.
Practice makes perfect, however surrounding yourself with people who are better than you certainly helps expedite the process. It can be humbling (and disheartening, at times), but setting aside ego and being willing to actively listen to criticism, absorb from observation, or evolve from competition can assist in more readily accomplishing one’s goals.
I’ve been very fortunate over the years to be able to surround myself with mentors who impart their unassuming wisdom upon me, often redirecting me to focus on what is genuinely important. Once, when discouraged by the inefficiently of others, the advice was thus:
“You have to run you. If your personal satisfaction is dependent on how others do things, you’ll always be frustrated. And it might sound selfish, but I much rather be excited than frustrated, so I focus on what I can do to always be improving in what I do, no matter how small it may seem to someone else.”
The idea is staggeringly simple, but really helps put things in perspective. When you’re feeling dispirited, undervalued, unmotivated, or underappreciated, you’re letting someone else dictate how you feel about yourself.
Inspire yourself. Impress yourself. Motivate yourself. Lead yourself. You might find that others follow.
“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” – William Faulkner