You cannot be the best if you do not work the hardest. You cannot hold the floor if you do not occupy space. You cannot improve if you do not make change.
I am not the best karateka in my dojo. I am much smaller than my male counterparts, and I’m not as strong. I can’t create the same drive, my muscles aren’t as dense and don’t fire as quickly, and my ability to withstand impact is substantially less. However, I work hard every night. I train, I sweat, I listen, I work, I adapt, and I learn. Sometimes I bleed. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never get better. But I do, because you cannot train that often, that hard, with the expert guidance of my sensei and not improve – it’s just that simple.
Every person in my dojo trains as hard as I do, and we respect each other for that reason. Everyone knows their place, and our goal is always to help each other improve. It is an ideal environment in which to train and learn, and I am very lucky to have such an amazing dojo.
But what if you are in a situation where not everyone is held to the same high standard? We have all faced this dilemma, be it in a work environment, a hobby or a sporting team. My answer to this is to focus on myself, rather than other people and their actions. When we turn the spotlight on ourselves, we are forced to view our own inadequacies rather than the glaring shortcomings of others. Self-reflection is a useful tool that drives our improvement agenda, strategies and goals. Our thoughts need to be focused on where we are heading, rather than our colleagues’ refusal to join us on our journey.
At the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves: do we want to be the peacock, or the eagle? Fancy feathers are one thing, but pretty doesn’t equal effective.
In a world of clumsy posturing and shoving, be the blade that cuts through the pretensions and the bindings to let yourself rise to the top. Don’t let yourself be tethered to people who are too blinded by their own illusions of grandeur to listen and actually improve.
In a world of sheep, be the wolf who chooses his own path, rather than following blindly those who are (at best) misinformed, and (at worst) deliberately destructive.
Most importantly: be content with these decisions. Your path needs to make you happy and give you satisfaction. For me, satisfaction comes from working hard and being the best I can be, regardless of what is happening around me. But if I can show the others that my team is better than theirs along the way…Well, that makes me happy too.