If you look around, some people doing great work.
- customers are lining outside their door
- they charge more but it doesn’t seem to matter
- they are the go-to expert in their community
But how did they get so good?
More importantly, can you be as good, if not better, than them?
Nobody Starts Out Great
Making comparisons is a trap. We all know this but sometimes it’s really difficult not to compare yourself to others.
This is especially bad when starting a new business. If you’re looking around to what other people are doing and how well they are doing, you’re making a big mistake. What you’re seeing is just a snapshot. Not the full story.
Every teacher I studied with was great at something, that’s why they were my teachers. But when I compared myself to my teachers, I forgot about the years, sometimes decades, it took for them to be great.
And you might be doing the same…
In martial arts, it’ simple to get an idea of how good somebody is. They wear the proof of their ability on their waist, their belt rank. If somebody is wearing a black belt, you expect them to be good, if they’re wearing a white belt, you will cut them some slack.
But in business, it’s different. You don’t see what they had to go through to be able to do great work.
To Do Great Work, You First Have to Be Not So Great
There are few great people out there. The reason. We hate being bad.
Most people won’t put in the effort to weather thru the bad times to make it to the other side. So they don’t give themselves a chance to get good, let alone great.
Ira Glass, of the long-running show, This American Life, explains the secret to doing great work.
Giving Yourself Permission to be Bad
The tough part about being bad is giving yourself permission to be where you are.
Accept that you are not a black belt, yet. But the truth is, you’re not a white belt either. It’s just that in comparison to people doing great work, it feels like you’re a white belt.
The fact of the matter is that you are somewhere in the middle. You are good enough to realize that you are not as good as you want to be, that takes a level of expertise that is beyond being just a beginner.
There are 3 groups of people that all high-performers associate with on a regular basis:
- teachers, mentors, and coaches – those individuals that they look up to elevate their game
- peers – the people who are traveling the path, maybe not with them but close enough that they can bounce ideas off one another
- students – high-performers regularly teach what they know, it strengthens their own understanding while re-enforcing how much they have to offer
Even Teachers Have Teachers
There’s this fallacy out there. We think that there is some end goal to achievement. Whether it’s in business, learning, relationships, what have you?
If only I could …, then I would be…
But it’s an illusion.
No matter where you’re standing, there will always be some new goal, destination, achievement to reach toward.
When I tell people I have a black belt, they think that that’s badass. But then I tell them my teacher has 6 of them and my master had 9 of them.
Too often, it’s easy to get caught up in a win/lose either/or mindset. But life is not that simple, it’s more of a continuous stream, a continuum.
No matter how good you get, or how bad you think you are, there will be people who have more experience than you and those who wish they were as good as you are.
Once you truly accept this, only then can you be okay with where you are along the path toward mastery.
Put It On the Mat
Being great is a direction, not a destination. It’s a process, not a place.
Start today to allow yourself to enjoy that process. Realize that there is much that you want to learn to know and do within your field of study. But also, know that there is much that you already have learned and done that you are taking for granted.
- What are some things that you believe are so simple but other people are shocked by?
- What skills do you have that other people compliment you on?
- What challenges do you help other people to overcome?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, do yourself a favor. Ask people.
What do your friends and family appreciate about you?
Develop relationships with your teachers, peers and those that wish to learn from you.