In sport and in life we are compelled to be remarkable. That drive keeps us striving and reaching for new growth. We set goals; we achieve them. We seek challenges; we meet them. We enrich our lives with experience, knowledge, and people that support our quest to be the best that we can be in whatever we endeavor to do. Along this path—somewhere, somehow—judgment creeps in. We start to question if we are remarkable enough. We start letting external parameters and stories that we tell ourselves define what it means to be remarkable.
In racing we have time clocks that give us precise and real feedback about how fast we covered the distance of the course; the time we post is documented, indisputable FACT. There’s no judgment in the fact of a 2:30 or 1:30 half marathon time. Both are facts. So, how is it that if we find ourselves thinking or talking about our own personal effort in our own personal quests to be remarkable that we say things like, “I PR’d my last half marathon with a 2:30. Nowhere near as fast as you, but I finished. I’m just glad I finished. I really didn’t have a lot of time to train like I wanted to, my job, and…,” and so on.
Do you see where the judgments start to creep in? Can you tell where the judgments are twisting a fact into a whole bunch of feelings, assessment, and conclusions about your individual effort as related to someone or something else?
Whenever I hear athletes talking amongst themselves I hear numerous instances of this kind of self-imposed judgment. Sometimes it is more camouflaged than others, but it is there. It is time we start to recognize when we are doing this and understand the impact that it might have on our quest for our own remarkable.
Out loud, to another person, talking like this discounts the effort we put into training, the discipline we impose upon our schedules, the patterns we shifted in our lives to do something remarkable. Somewhere in the words we choose we are telling ourselves stories about all that we give and do not being good enough. While it may seem like innocuous, self-effacing banter, there is something deeper going on. At the same time we are imposing these judgments on ourselves, we are unknowingly creating, rehearsing and affirming limitations on our potential.
It is almost as if we are afraid to really step into the spotlight beam shining on our own personal remarkableness. Certainly the facts of these two half marathon times clearly show that the 1:30 runner ran faster than the 2:30 runner. But that says nothing about one being more or less an achievement, or more or less remarkable for each of those runners. There is no limit on remarkable, and there is certainly no scale against which remarkable is graded.
Remarkable, like happiness and contentment in life, is fluid and stretchy and deeply personal. It is not a destination and it is not one-size fits all. Let’s not let the stories we tell ourselves and the judgments we bring upon us constrain the enjoyment of the process of our growth and development our quest for those achievements. When you notice that your inner self might be telling the rest of yourself limiting stories and judging yourself unfairly here’s something to try:
Stand up. Then, firmly exclaim to that inner self, “YOU ARE NOT THE JUDGE OF ME!”
…and proceed with focus and confidence in the direction of remarkable.