How do you define success? What are the factors? In our humble society, the word success almost takes on a dirty meaning. I personally prefer to talk of progress, which I define as small successful steps towards my very own goals. Success and the relief, power, satisfaction and other things we attribute to it, can be scary if we don't put it in perspective. As an athlete, my ultimate goal was to participate in the Olympics but I also know many of my former team mates, who did, and the satisfaction from having participated or like these two, having won the Gold Medal in Beijing (Britta & Lena), wears off and makes room for other superlatives to try to reach. It is an ongoing journey and we need to acknowledge that.
I wasn't always this relaxed about things. I would push and shove and train hard. I had the biggest falling out of my teenage years with my coach when he told the then national coach to go to hell and not enroll me on the team in early 1997 (I was 15) because he didn't want me to compete internationally at that young age. I threw a tantrum, I cried, I sulked and I hated him. Ultimately he was right. It would have been too soon. Being on the team meant that the national coach took over from mine and dictated my schedule, with very little room for negotiation. If that meant World Cups throughout the winter, that also meant there was no solid time for me at home to still build my strength, stamina and ultimately all things that made me the well rounded athlete I became later on. When I joined the team 8 months later, I learned first hand how painful it could be to train with someone who didn't care that I was still growing, that I needed adequate rest time and couldn't be partnered up with 17 year young men in little competitive races, swimming and running while reminding me that as a representative of my country, giving up was NOT an option.
At a particularly grueling workshop the boys, who swam the 200 m freestyle in 20-30 seconds faster than me, had to swim 10 sets of 50 meters diving and then 50 meters sprint. Myself and them had the same 'go times' of every 2:30 minutes which meant that they had ample time to recover after each set but my rest time vanished into thin air with each one. The same was true for the 400 meter runs we had to do every day. A week later at the European Championship I swam the worst time of that year and ran a minute slower than ever, with the first three contestants finishing in my usual time. In his defense, my coach did not say "I told you so"...
I digressed a little. Nowadays as a business owner and working my own hours and being solely responsible for my success, it has been hard to be patient. I have touched on patience in a different post but it is not the only thing that I had to apply to remind myself that success can be measured in different ways.
- Why only have big goals? Focus on smaller attainable goals and celebrate when you get there.
- Talk and listen. We don't like to take advice from parents but we can learn from other people and sometimes simply because they see us from the outside and assess the situation more clearly.
- Realize that it is a process. Last week I received a text message from a great woman I work with that she had to buy smaller pants. We've worked together for some time but not too long. This is amazing and the fact that it took some time means it will stick.
- Don't compare. Hey, I'm the most competitive woman on the planet so that's hard. Ultimately its two things: there is enough success for everyone (no, really!) AND be kind, because everyone out there is fighting a tough battle (too).
- ... which brings us to this: Be KIND to yourself. Because if you're not, why should others be? Don't beat yourself up. Things take time, especially the lasting ones. Fighting yourself can - at the worst - result in self sabotage or self fulfilling prophecies. Try my advice for stressful situations and keep soldiering on.
I think you're great! Please share some successes with me in the comments, pass on the post, like it, and if you haven't yet and want more info from me, sign up for my newsletter on the homepage!
PS: Zola learned how to balance on her hind legs. Success!