I was at the dinner table on New Year’s Day spending some time with my family and an interesting discussion came up. Actually it grew out of another discussion/argument that I was having with my grandmother about the excuses she was making about diet and exercise. As I gave up on that argument in frustration, my mother took advantage of the silence to ask me if I thought I was obsessive. OBSESSIVE!? Why would I be obsessive, because I care about my health and the health of my family? This seems reasonable, right? My response was, of course, a resounding NO. However, my mother was not satisfied. She started with the “but this” and “but that” nonsense. I had to explain to my mother and to everyone else who was listening that I was in constant competition with myself to make myself a better person and that she should also be trying to do the same thing. It was at this point that my aunt chimed in with, “Well compared to most 50 year olds, your mother looks good.” I literally laughed out loud because of the complacency of this statement, and for a brief moment my mother was insulted, so I began to explain.
Self improvement should be everyone’s goal and comparing yourself to “most people” is not going to get it done for you. As unfortunate as it is to admit, “most people” are not worth comparing yourself to. As a matter of fact, during my dinner table discussion I referred to “most people” as the dregs of society. Fact is, we simply do not live in a society of over-achievers, but rather one that makes a habit of laziness and underachieving and nowhere is this more evident than in the health and fitness industry and athletics. I wrote in a recent post about setting goals and how important that is in your progress toward becoming a great athlete. This is no different. If your goal is to be as good as most people then the title of this post is good enough for you. However, if success is truly what you desire, you must go above and beyond when setting your goals. When determining what it is that you want to achieve, choose someone who is better than you to compare yourself to and strive to get to that person’s level of success. Once you have done so, choose another person who is on a higher level and work towards that level. By doing this, you will never be satisfied with the level that you are at and you will constantly be looking to improve upon yourself.
This philosophy does not just work for improving your health and fitness level at the age of 50, but can also be applied to athletics. While striving to be a better athlete keep in mind that perspective is everything. If you are the best shooter on your basketball team but are not able to get your shot off in games against other teams, then perhaps comparing yourself to just your teammates is not enough. Broaden the spectrum of players you are comparing yourself to because there is a chance that your teammates might not be great shooters at all and to say you are the best out of 10 or 12 guys that cannot shoot well is not going to make you any better. Or maybe you are the strongest guy in your gym but you are physically getting your butt kicked in competition. Chances are your gym is filled with weaklings, and maybe you should consider training somewhere else.
Yes, perspective is everything when it comes to self improvement as a person or an athlete. If you want to be successful, do not stop at comparing yourself to “most people” because when put into perspective, most people are underachievers. Compare yourself to the top members of society, the ones who are truly successful at what they do and then determine where you stand. If you feel that you are on par with the elite then good for you, but if not, then you too are just “most people.”