Originally Written: 13-Sep-2020
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When we are born we are an infinite ball of possibility and hope.
We are also directionless.
At some point in life, we establish a direction we like and we walk toward it.
Why? Because it brings us joy.
What happens when we take our first steps toward something?
We stumble. We fall. We even faceplant if we're lucky enough.
But, with encouragement, we get back up to take our next steps.
Our caregivers provide us with assurance we are doing alright.
Baffled but not bested, we attempt again until we are victorious.
We are walking. We are skipping. We are running.
Then we run the mile in PE.
One of the first measures applied to a child in their life that places a great hurdle in front of them is having to run 'the mile'.
The mile is a test run for growing children to gauge their physical fitness over time.
It's also one of the first ways data are used by children to establish popularity among the cohort.
After running the mile, a person's mile time was compared with others constantly.
Who is the fastest? Who is the slowest? What is considered above average and am I above or below it?
This metric is one of many we find get applied to us in the name of assessment but its impact is astronomical.
It is the first step in differentiation of a group that sets apart clear winners and losers according to a standard.
That's not to say schools don't already do it, but this is my metaphor so give me a break here.
The point I'm trying to make here is we don't have to have a point to make when we sit down to write our next sentence.
We don't have to make a work of art the next time we pick up a paintbrush.
We don't have to make the next best thing since sliced bread the next time we think of a good idea.
The pressure to succeed is based on a deeply-rooted survival technique we used when we were younger.
Survive at all costs, with whatever means necessary, in order to live long enough to reproduce.
When life generates so many Key Performance Indicators that demand attention from us, it's hard to focus on which ones to track.
It's impossible to multi-task, but we cannot just focus on one.
y = mx + b
Our results in life (y) are a function of what we do (x), how well our approach is (m), and how we are being (b) to ourselves through it all.
If an approach to a problem requires you to be mean to yourself, then you will gain experience in being mean to yourself to accomplish what you want.
The more we focus on results, the less we focus on how we're being through achieving those results.
Conversely, if you're only focusing on how you're being through what you're doing, then you'll miss the mark and choke.
Lastly, placing all our focus on our approach creates tentativeness in our perfectionism that prevents us from doing anything in the first place.
So what can we focus on? What we're doing.
What we're doing about a situation or problem is the number one indicator of whether anything will get done at all.
If you act with bad approach, you learn.
If you act with bad form, you learn.
If you don't get the results you want, you learn.
If you don't do anything, you don't learn anything.
Doing was once all we wanted to do.
When we were young that's all we did was do.
But then we looked up after we were told to put our pencils down and were given results to focus on instead.
That's right. We've changed the metaphor.
Back on point. The next time we took an assessment or test, our focus was no longer on what we were doing but how we were going to do.
What's up anxiety?
For over-achievers, the anxiety levels are through the roof when it comes to doing something right the first time.
The pressure is on because the pressure is there, or at least it was.
When you naturally excel at what you commit to, people expect you to never make mistakes with anything you do.
Which is probably what ends up leading to having complexes about making mistakes and having an obtuse sense of perfectionism as an adult.
Given that, we cannot do anything about the pressure we had on us before.
We are not responsible for applying that kind of pressure on ourselves now as adults.
We are responsible for encouraging ourselves, as our caregivers once did, for even trying at all.
So what if they say a square peg doesn't fit a round hole.
Try and find out for yourself.