Traditionally, Canada does not place well in the Olympic Summer Games. (The winter games is a better story.) Canadian athletes competing often surpass “personal best” results or break Canadian records for their sport. However, that’s not always good enough on the world stage.
You’ve trained and prepared, you’re motivated and ready, but you end up fourth, fifth or even last. What do you do when your personal best is not good enough?
Here are some steps you can take when you find yourself in that position. This is not a all-or-nothing or sequential list. This is a list of options to consider, to help you decide what your next step will be.
This seems obvious. If you feel you have potential to improve, you need to keep working toward that objective. A surprising number of people quit the moment they hit their first setback. Those who want to push their personal best to new levels keep working to improve.
Know when to quit
I once knew a woman who had a desire to lead a music group, despite the fact that she was not much of a musician. She never did anything to improve her musical ability and she was so focused on this impractical goal that she missed opportunities to engage and develop her genuine skills.
Sometimes you have to acknowledge that your personal best is not going to lead to success in an endeavour. Take a hard and honest look at your skills inventory and determine if you should be pursuing a different passion.
Know when to switch gears
Similar to knowing when to quit, sometimes you need to know when to take your current skills and passion in a different direction. For example, your painting skills may never get you into the National Gallery, but you may have the ability to be the next Bob Ross. By paring up two skills, you might be able to create something bigger than either of them.
Evaluate your pond size
There’s an expression that speaks of being a big fish in a small pond. This refers to people who are important within their circle of influence. You need to know what kind of pond you’re swimming in to determine the outcome of your efforts.
You may be the best swimmer in Canada, but competing on the world stage, at the Olympic Summer Games, brings a different standard of success. If you are content with being a big fish in a small pond, continue to enjoy what you’re doing.
Reduce the unnecessary
You may feel you have a novel in you just waiting to burst out and become a bestseller. However, you spend three or four hours per day camped in front of the television. That novel is likely to sit and perhaps get written by someone else.
Whatever you’re trying to achieve in life, you’ve got to take action if you’re going to succeed. A fool waits for opportunity to knock; a wise man searches out opportunity and wrestles with it until it gives in.
Learn, learn, learn
Whatever your goals and ambitions, you need to develop a personal plan for continuous improvement. You may aspire to be the next Michael Phelps, the best corn farmer in Taber, or the best math teacher in California. Success comes when you pursue learning opportunities. This is not merely signing up for a course at your local college. This is evaluating your abilities, reading, watching, practicing and so on.
Enjoy yourself and the Journey
Not every success is measured in medals, money or fame. Success is the completion of anything intended. Just because you pull out your camera everyday to take pictures doesn’t mean you want to be the next Clive Arrowsmith or Joe McNally. You may be looking through the lens for personal enjoyment, preserving family history or any number of things. If you’re enjoying the journey, you are one large step towards success.