We live in an age of instant gratification thanks to, or no thanks to depending on your take, social media, where everyone seems to continually be patting themselves on the back. It’s the “look at me” era. Anyone with a smart phone can make themselves feel superior with a few likes and followers. “Insta famous!” I’m not trying to sit here and tell people what’s right or wrong however, when you’re focused more on what you appear to be on the internet as opposed to actually putting in the work you need to do in order to be the best, this is a problem. Now, if all you really care about is the public front you put on then go for it, but if your goal is actually to be the best then it’s time to put the phone down, shut your mouth and get back to work.
I have always been of the mindset that nothing is ever good enough. That’s not to say I’m not grateful and appreciative for the things that I’ve been able to accomplish. What it means is that no matter what I do I know that there is always room for more growth. I can always improve. There is no finish line until you take that last breath. Until then, there will always be new mountains to climb.
Some might take this as being too hard on yourself but I find that to be one of the biggest reasons for mediocrity. We have literally set the bar so low these days that it’s actually on the floor. I see people who win a few fights or titles, particularly at the lower level, and they parade themselves around as if they are now one if the greatest to ever step foot in the ring. Sure, if you compare yourself to where you used to be or to people that haven’t done what you have then yea, I can see how one might think that. For me, however, I’ve always set my sights on being one of the best to ever do it, and in that aspect, there’s always more to be done. It’s the big fish in a small pond problem, which Damien Trainor has a nice write up on his blog that you can check out here (although it's touching on a slightly separate topic but still a great read). I think some of us forget just how big this world is. Do you want to be the best on your block or the best ever? Anyone can be the best in the gym, the best in their city, state, etc., but if you think you are ever going to really achieve greatness then you had better set you sets higher. It is easy to look back and say, “Well in my day people just had a different mindset.” Yes and no. People definitely did but that’s also because it wasn’t as easy to pretend you were something you weren’t back then, although there were still those that did. There always has been, and always will be, those that are more concerned with what they appear to be rather than what they really are.
It’s difficult for me to look back on my career and have any kind of ego about it. Sure, I have done a lot, but my eyes remain focused on what else I can do, not on what I have already accomplished. Maybe when I retire, I will be able to take a step back and really enjoy it but until then I will continually be trying to improve, set new bars and better myself.
I look at it like this, it is literally impossible to be 100% perfect in anything you do so in that sense, no matter how good you get, you can always get better. Even if you have ‘perfected’ something, it does not just stay sharp forever. You need to be continually perfecting every weapon you have. The problem is that there are so many and once you start getting one thing down the others start to dull. It is a constant juggling act.
We need to strive daily to not only be better than we were, but to be the best ever. This goes for every aspect of life.