we measure ourselves against ourselves and not against an external benchmark of what’s considered ‘normal’. What if we acknowledge that wherever we’re at with our health, physical fitness, parenting, caring, work, or any other aspect of our lives is great. The difference it can make to our attitude and our success can be profound according to Dr Dave Alred who spoke at a conference I attended recently. This is what I learned ..
‘out of’ creates a mental ceiling.
‘out of’ reinforces poor performance.
If we accept we’re already a 10 (eliminating the ‘out of 10’) then, wherever we’re at is great. We start with a belief that we can do it rather than fix those things that are wrong or assume can’t be done.
We’ve got a terrific starting point and now we can get going on building on our existing greatness.
This is particularly pertinent in the context of our health as we age. What happens if we rate our health as 10 no matter what might be considered as ‘normal’ for our age, our gender, or the population? That is, wherever our health is now, whatever we can do now is perfect for us. The opportunity to build on this and get better then becomes limitless and is done within the context of our own ambitions, desires, or limitations.
A chance meeting on a recent train journey exemplified Alred’s philosophy.
I happened to be seated beside a South African woman (Gail) who shared her own story as well as an experience she had with her 91 year old mother who had moved into a nursing home in South Africa a couple of years ago and was incredibly unhappy.
Gail flew to South Africa to see her Mum and hopefully help her adjust to her new home. She succeeded by giving her this advice …
Accept where she was at now [her 10]. There was no point in lamenting what she no longer had or could no longer do.
Her mother had all her faculties and was frustrated with where she was now living as she felt she lacked freedom and choice and many of the people she now lived with were severely incapacitated or weren’t nearly as capable as she was, even in a wheelchair.
Her mother (like Gail), loves to read. So Gail encouraged her to read to some of the other residents. And that’s what she does. Happily. She’s adjusted to her new home and her new life. Her new 10 (in the nursing home) has become something greater than 10, to the benefit of herself and a gift to many others.
When I consider this concept in the context of my own life and how I age I realise that my reduced eyesight and tender knees require a slight adjustment to activity that opens doors to new experiences (e.g. glasses, and gentler exercise). Not limiting. Just different.
I also realise there’s opportunities for an attitude shift towards how I rate myself as a mother, friend, and entrepreneur. Invariably I’ll tend to think about the things that I do wrong that need fixing. An assumption that whatever I’m currently doing isn’t enough. Accepting that how I am right now, today, is great is … uncomfortable and hard. And, I’m determined to move from uncomfortable, to accepting, to building on the greatness that I already am (Ew. That’s even hard to write!).
Alred quoted Aristotle who says:
[Wo]Man who competes with [wo]man is noble but …
True nobility is [wo]man who competes with [her]his previous self.
How about you? Do you accept that you’re already great and measure yourself against yourself? Who do you compete with?