Do you think there's only one option to be successful in life? You either perform a certain skill at a high level, aiming to excel, or you choose a different skill. Either way, you give it all your energy, even though it’s not something that brings you joy. Eventually, you burn out.
The way you see it, those who reach the award podium are role models and everyone else is … a nobody.
Horrible as it sounds, this point of view is common, a core belief that leaves thousands of people paralyzed, and unable to improve their lives in a meaningful way.
There’s an old idea at play here. It says that the value of performance is all about winning, and by association, that’s how you rate your life. Success is your ability to win. Winning is what gives your life value.
This could not be further from the truth. The value of your life is not determined by how many times you win. Just ask athletes who spent their whole careers winning, only to be confronted by a different reality after their sports careers ended.
Unfortunately, performance athletes lead the parade known as ‘success’. This is mostly because of profitability. Teaching kids and young adults to be performance stars is a money-maker. The learning they need, the learning that lasts, is different. It’s about how to be a vital human, full of energy, insight, creativity and the drive to be our best selves, no matter what the circumstances.
Now, I'm not denying the importance of sports, and the good things about winning. I’ve been a performance athlete, and I have plenty of drive to compete and get results. But, what I am saying is that if you focus on performance and dismiss vitality, your performance will suffer. You'll be left to wonder, "Why didn't I spend more time taking care of myself? Why didn't I make time to build skills that aren’t geared to ‘win’?” What about rejuvenation, connection and vitality as signs of success?
You may ride your bike without a destination in mind. This is success.
You may stretch on the ground and listen to your body while you listen to a favorite song. This is success.
You may meditate and notice that your thoughts don’t go away. This is success.
You may take a break from your strict diet. This is success.
You may do nothing for 30 minutes. This is success.
Don't let a performance mindset get in the way of a long and vital life, full of freedom and fulfillment. Your muscles aren't going anywhere and neither will the trophies on your wall. A vital human balances the desire to win with a healthy dose of self-love.
Because to be honest, that's where you're going to make a difference.