What if future generations learned to lean into courage and not perfection, and what if we support and develop leaders who create conditions that don't foster excellence derived from perfection...
I admit bluntly that I spent YEARS building an efficacy in my ability to provide the perfect response, to an obviously unfavorable result.
I have a bad-ass arsenal of comebacks - I’m so good, I got it, I can handle it, I’m fine, I learned so much, it’s handled, It was great and now I am so clear on what to work-on, I’m totally fine, I can handle anything- really, it was such a good experience, I got it, it’s no problem, I got that too.
It is not probable to always be on top, to not make a mistake, to always have it handled. But damn, did I try my absolute hardest to deal with my imperfection, perfectly.
Take every blow like a champ and I'll be real winner.
Taking it back, to the 90s and 00s - I swam. I was a great swimmer, and I was not the best swimmer. I started my love affair with chlorine at age 7, as a default because I wasn't walking well enough to join the soccer team due to a sorta major ski accident. This, then default, activity ruled my world for the next 11 years. Everything revolved around performance in the pool, and my performance in the pool was more important to me than anything else. I was invested and committed and loyal to my path toward achievement. I achieved over and over, getting faster, getting new accolades, implementing new ways of training to yield new results. By most standards, I excelled. I was fast, had solid technique, and was committed. Yet, I was never the fastest, the one with the best time, the best credentials, or the one favored to excel. On the school-front, in academics, my results were kinda-similarsimilar. Like SuperGood, Not Gold Medal Winner or Valedictorian - and, to me it was disappointment, frustration, and failure a-plenty. Now, know I was never shunned, or made wrong for not being the one on-top, the Champion, or a 4.0er. I was trained to know that It was ok to not win, to not be the favorite, to not be at the top, and that sometimes unfavorable things happened.
In my world, there was a right way and a wrong way to handle any level of disappointment, failure, and frustration. The right way was to have a i'm not-bothered, I'm not broken, I'm not hurt, I'm good, I'm happy with myself no-matter what, and I'm fine way of being. The clear expectation was - demonstrate absolute ease and positivity, always and no matter what.
Overtime, this meant that what was happening for me emotionally was NOT what I was demonstrating to the world. I was so practiced in communicating the champion answer, I was so un-practiced and im-mature in authentic communications skills. I didn't have an efficacy in expressing my range of emotions. I didn't know how to actually translate what I felt into what I said. I was good, always good, no matter what good, the answer - good. I had no training in identifying my real answer. Today, my favorite question to ask someone who is inside of an experience of failure or frustration or disappointment is - How is this [whatever is happening] working out for you? It is almost impossible to answer the question with a good, when you're actually experiencing something that doesn't feel so good.
Two things happen when we play pretend : (1) we discover that we have buried ourselves under some seriously thick armor. (2) we don't ever get what's needed to recover - because we can't even identify what to ask for.
As a human, when your words don't line up with what your body is saying, it becomes very weird to communicate with you. When you say things like, "it's no problem", to the friend that bailed last minute on the dinner plans that you had been looking forward to with excitement all day, but what you want to say is "i'm bummed, can we reschedule?", the trust that your people have in you fades - because you are not telling the truth.
I now know that I love to win. Sometimes I am good with not winning, and find joy in the process without attachment to the outcome. Other times, I get upset, angry, and frustrated that my performance didn't cut it and that I wasn't picked and I wasn't the champ - and, in these times I now know that I have options. (1) Pretend I'm not upset, angry, or frustrate (2) Bring forth courage to experience myself as fragile and delicate.
When we learn how to communicate the truth - we experience that the truth will set you free - and, even rescue you from the downward spiral that identification with failure creates.
To have compassion and acceptance for your range of emotions and to greet others with compassion when the expression of their emotions, ain't sitting' so well with you - is the real kind of superb human strength.