My Circus Life is a weekly livestream broadcast in which I share lessons from my pursuits of flying trapeze, trampoline and other circus activities and how they apply to life and business. This article is a write-up of Episode 93: Celebrating Where You Are. It is not a transcript. If you want the full picture, read and watch.
Facing The Gap
On the path of Constant and Never-Ending Improvement, it’s easy to find yourself always facing the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
The advice to surround yourself with a higher-level peer group is well-meaning and can help you uplevel, but the downside is that it’s easy to get caught in the aspiration gap: to see only the journey that lays ahead of you, and what more you need to do.
It’s easy to feel that you’re not doing enough, that you will never “catch up,” that you’ll always be behind. When you surround yourself with people who are at the next level already it’s easy to feel that everyone is “better” than you are. And that may be true in a limited sense of “better,” but it’s not true overall.
It can be easy to feel like you are “not enough.”
Seeing Your Progress
How often do you recognize how far you’ve come?
How often do you stop to celebrate what you HAVE done?
How often do you stop to celebrate how amazing you already are?
How much do you take for granted the skills you do have?
I’ll admit that as much as I’ve learned to celebrate my wins (it’s a crucial part of my daily rituals), I’m often guilty of overlooking things I’ve achieved as I pursue the path of upleveling.
I’ll admit that, too often, I take for granted the things I do that other people find brave, or courageous, or — dare I say it — extraordinary.
Dare I say it. Even that says so much.
Why is it so audacious to own the fact that I do some extraordinary things?
Today I got a reminder that I do some extraordinary things. That reminder came in the form of a compliment from a group of women as I was working on what I consider to be some very basic skills.
The Tension Between Celebrating and Improving
There often seems to be a tension between the desire to improve and the need to recognize how far we’ve already come.
The tension comes from this fear: if we stop to look back, does that mean we won’t move forward?
It does not.
Celebrate to Move Forward
To the contrary: when all we see is the gap, we run the risk of losing hope. We get caught in the trap of always looking to the next thing.
We can only cross the gap by acknowledging and celebrating what we have already done.
If you can’t acknowledge where you are, you won’t get to where you desire to go.
This doesn’t mean you should surround yourself with beginners. We all need the pull of what’s possible to grow. But if the beginners find you and marvel at your skills, accept the compliment. Allow it to remind you of how far you’ve come.
And don’t wait for them to find you. Proactively create space to stop and reflect.
It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. We often forget what we learned and what we didn’t know at one point in time.
In the moments when you feel stuck in moving forward, look for those places where you’ve already made progress.
You’ve Come a Long Way
Here’s what I know:
There are things that YOU do every day (or very often) that seem like basics for you.
You forget you once struggled with them.
You forget that they seemed extraordinary to you at one time.
Now they are your baseline.
But for someone else they are a stretch goal.
What are those things for you?
Please share in the comments.
PS: Today’s episode of My Circus Life also contains a separate, but related bonus lesson about a crucial mistake many of us make — especially women. Be sure to watch the episode to hear about it.