This simple but effective image comes from the legendary surfer Laird Hamilton. It is a reminder not to listen too much to our worst enemy: self-criticism. Laird, as an athlete, knows how your mind can prevent you from delivering your greatest performance no matter how much you are physically prepared.
Between the frenetic atmosphere of the World Cup and the Wimbledon tournament, I have been thinking about the mindset that allows exceptional players to overcome and resist their doubts and to learn how to handle defeat as well as success. I find it particularly hard when your field does not forgive mistakes. Either you take the trophy and title home or you leave empty-handed.
I do not believe thought that perfectionism is the basis of a true champion's way of thinking. Acceptance is. Acceptance to give your best, whatever your best means at a specific moment. Acceptance for who you are, what you do and believe, what you feel and express. Acceptance allows a more responsive than reactive attitude. This helps to cultivate perseverance, which is the secret weapon of success.
Still, our society seems to push us in another direction. I can write pages and pages about the beauty of letting go, self love and the necessity of failure to succeed, you change cannot something so engrained simply with good intentions.
Michael Jordan once said, "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
I love this quote. I share it, blog it. Yes, failure is awesome. I do not know how many times we hear it every day, especially if you work in innovation or live in Silicon Valley. We know it, but do we live by it? Do we tolerate it in ourselves and for others? Do we cross the bridge between understanding the idea and making it ours? Do we really change our vision of success and what a meaningful life should be? Do we cultivate more compassion for our own experimentations that are going nowhere?
I really try but find it so hard.
There is a world between knowing something and feeling it. That is the collateral effect of a culture that seems to focus a lot on our ability to develop our brain without paying too much attention to our heart. What a pity. Having a direct line between the two would make our lives so much richer and better.
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift," affirmed Albert Einstein. How ironic... we grow old realizing that maybe we have forgotten too quickly how to behave more spontaneously, as children do. Without thinking too much about the outcome, what people will think of us and what we will think of ourselves as a consequence.
That is the battle and it is not a small one. It is the choice between freedom and invisible walls you build for yourself. It is not only a question of happiness, it involves your ability to create, to be sure you are doing what you love and were meant to do. It defines how you will impact your community, not only your own life. We are capable of achieving so much more when we give ourselves the permission to. When we free ourselves from labels we allow for experiments. The world would be very different if more of us were thinking more about ourselves as work in progress. We should see the world as our canvas and ourselves as artists. We offer our vision, with our work, startup, project, design, storytelling skills, whatever your domain is.
Perfectionism is your worst enemy, the one that makes you feel "never good enough." Success is somewhere else. An artist is not a perfectionist. Expressing yourself is beyond any definition of perfection. It allows you to touch your truth. And this theory does not suffer any right or wrong division.
Our doubts should make us learn and move forward instead of paralyse our ability to explore. A "failure" is not fatal, its just feedback. Learning is the ultimate goal, questioning the true reward.
Taking the challenge to "cultivate my pioneer spirit" on the Amazers platform, I accepted to define my impossible: "living without the fear of what could go wrong and trust myself more without being scared of what people would think about me." The obstacle is of course my well wired brain, used to the other pattern.
The final step in this challenge is to share it with one person to make the process irreversible, or at least as a symbolic action. I decided to share it with you, without worrying too much about how many likes, shares and positive feedback I will get from it, or not.
That is the first step