Being the contrarian that I am striving for, I am always looking for ways to go against the grain when I deem fit to do so. In our society’s never-ending quest to do more, do it faster, get the ‘gram picture and move on to the next thing, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone that taking a second to stop and smell the roses once in a while is a good idea. Be sure you take a brief pause in time to appreciate yourself, and your accomplishments, when applicable.
I am not endorsing celebrating you finishing a workout by eating a huge piece of chocolate cake, but if you have been working towards a goal, or maintaining a new pattern of behavior lately, be sure to pat yourself on the back. Seriously, think about it; in many cases we are our own worse critics. But how often are we our biggest cheerleader as well? Stop and smell the roses once in a while…
When you are young, there are “forced” moments of acknowledgment, such as recognition for graduating high school, and then college. If you play seasonal sports, there is a finite end to the process, and if you did well, recognition of that. But as you get older and move into your own world of task->grind->completion->next, be cognizant of the fact that you now need to be the one who sets up the proverbial season-ending pizza party for yourself. I know, I have been guilty of this for a large chunk of my life.
As a competitive racquetball player, which I was for about a twenty year period, I was always working towards the next event. The season were perpetual in the sense that there was always another tournament to play in right around the corner. There were roughly 20 events on the Pro Tour, but plenty of amateur money events to play in as well. Each one was a new quest, always another prize money check to chase. Wins started to become the expectation somewhere along the line, and I went from celebrating my first tournament win in grand fashion, to picking up my prize money check and cashing it to pay bills and get to the next one. Loses stuck out because they were a disappointment, a shortfall, a miss. The was no celebrations; there was a momentary sense of relief for a win, and a self-loathing mental and emotional browbeating for anything less.
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that I learned a lot of things the hard way. People would tell me to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy my life a little, and not be so hard on myself. I would laugh to myself, saying things to justify my approach like: they don’t know what it takes to win. This isn’t true. Winners with longevity love what they do; they love to compete, they love the process and the battle almost as much as the win itself. A guy like Roger Federer doesn’t stay at the top of the tennis world for two decades without a serious love of the sport as a whole, not just the tournament wins. Tom Brady isn’t in the NFL at age 40 because of the money, it is because he loves the game, the process, and he cherishes the moments of victory. People at this level understand that the quiet moments of reflection and self-appreciation matter just as much as the applause and the prize money checks.
Since I am trying to get better at these sort of things, I am going to give myself a quick kudos for a job well done yesterday. I spoke at the W.P. Carey school of Business yesterday, and did that talk:
-On short notice
-On a new topic
-Without any notes (due to technical difficulties)
I did talks to two classes of about 300 college kids each. It was a blast, I really do enjoy doing talks like that. I went to lunch with my wife afterwards, and despite having just talked for two 40 minute sessions plus Q&A afterwards, I was blathering throughout lunch just from the buzz of it. As I slipped back into the rest of my day, the high began to wear off. I called my Mom and told her about the day, just to rekindle the feelings from a few short hours ago. Today I wake up and get back to my usual routine, and just like that the feelings of yesterday are long gone. So I am going to lead by example and let myself know that I am proud of myself, that I appreciate my efforts, and that I did a great job.
If this is something you struggle with, ask yourself why is it that you have a hard time accepting accolades, believing that you did something worthwhile, that your efforts deserve acknowledgment? It is not fair to be your own worst critic but not also be your biggest fan. As much as I hate using a Kanye West reference, here is good example of this. Rumor has it that Kanye has a huge picture of himself on the wall as you enter his house. (No surprise, right?) But when asked about it, he gave a great answer: “You have to be your own biggest fan”. While I will never buy a pair of Yeezy’s or even download his new album when it drops, I gotta give credit for that one particular thought he shared there. That was insight to a very good practice.
The wife and I are going to dinner tonight to celebrate. We have happy lives and there is more than one reason to celebrate, but yesterday is now on the list as well. Be kind to yourself, you get so much more out of life when you are kind to yourself and those around you. Trust me on this. Come join me on the contrarian side, and go against the trend of the world today, which seems to be more, faster, better and not a moment to pause and reflect.
In the famous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”