We’re defining success wrong, and it’s hurting us


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WRONG: COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS

Keeping score against others as a measure of success is a strategy for misery. If we want to keep score, why not compare ourselves instead with the person we were yesterday, the person we were last year, or even five years ago? Are we happier? Are we wiser? Are we more loving?

Wanting to achieve is not wrong. We are inherently creative. We were born with a strong desire to evolve and express our true nature. We want to hone our craft: whether that’s caring for others, creating a company, or writing code. How can we avoid this trap? Think back to kindergarten when the teacher reminded us “You worry about yourself.”

Imagine training for a marathon. You join a running club. There’s a 12-week training program and a diet plan to adhere to. You follow both religiously. Each day you put in the work. Each day you can feel yourself getting stronger, fitter, faster, and healthier. Your mood lightens.

You start getting used to getting up early. You actually look forward to the group runs at 5:45 am. You look forward to the sunrises. You look forward to the connections you’ve built with your little team.

Over the course of three months, you have developed a deeper understanding of your diet and how it affects your body. Your inner talk track is healthier and kinder. Your family notices. You’re easier to be around.

On race day there’s a strategy. You know not to start out too fast. You find the pace group that will run nine-minute miles and you settle in with them. By the 18th mile, you’ll know if you can go any faster or if you’ll just be hanging on. It hurts, but it feels good at the same time.

As you round the final corner with half a mile to go, you’re surrounded by cowbells and cheering fans. Your family is here to take pictures and shout encouragement from the sideline. They are beaming. They’ve seen the transformation in you. They’ve been inspired by your growth. Your nine-year-old daughter is already thinking about how she’d like to do a marathon someday when she grows up.

You’ve done everything you could do. As you cross the finish line and throw your hands in the air, you know that you’ve completely maxed out your capability. There was nothing more you could have done. You smile a giant smile as you hold your finishers’ medal and bask in the endorphins.

In that precious moment, does it really matter that your friend David finished twelve minutes ahead of you?

No. You ran your own race.

And you won.

Developing your own inner guidance system is not complicated, but it can be challenging. These three steps are a great start to put a smile on your face and those around you.

By Scott Shute. Shute is the head of Mindfulness and Compassion at LinkedIn and a founder of the Mindful Workplace Movement, a group of business leaders dedicated to developing mindfulness in the corporate world. He is the author of The Whole Body Yes: Change Your Work and Your World from the Inside Out.- Fast Company

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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