I got to take my family snow skiing for the first time last Saturday and it was a blessed day. At least for me. My kids may give you a different response. The problem, I would soon learn, was that the only context they had for skiing was TV—watching it on a sports broadcast like the Olympics. Those athletes are amazing and make it look easy. What my kids have never seen is those athletes as beginners like them, looking awkward and gangly and falling down. And of course, they’ve never seen all the hours those athletes have put in to become world-class skiers. So in their minds, if it’s hard, they must be doing it wrong. If they’re falling down and scared, they must be embarrassing failures. I even tried all my best motivational techniques like “You can’t get better if you don’t fall down” or “All good skiers have to fall at least 20 times before they can ski without falling—you’ve got 3 under your belt. Good job!” or my favorite “I believe in you and I know you can do this!” All I got was dirty looks and more tears. Had I ruined this great recreational activity for them for life? And more importantly, why was my patience and encouragement and belief in them not enough to help them overcome their expectations of instant success and Olympic-caliber ability?
And then it hit me: I do the same thing to myself. I want instant success, too. I want a best-selling book and/or e-book tomorrow. And a top-rated podcast. And don’t even get me started on the blog! I mean, I’ve posted at least half a dozen times on my blog and I don’t have 1,000 people in my tribe yet! I’d even settle for 100 for now! And since I don’t have those things yet, I may as well quit. It’s too hard.
But that’s not how it works. Practice… and consistent persistence… and practice… and patience with yourself and the learning process are the name of the game in anything we want to become good at. Did I mention practice?
Don’t get me wrong: I am NOT saying we shouldn’t have stretch goals and high expectations for ourselves. What I AM saying is that we need to be careful to not get discouraged or frustrated when we don’t yet have enough experience to fulfill those expectations. It takes time. And falling down. And getting back up. Over and over. Until we can navigate the trails with confidence and skill.
Fortunately, they all overcame their fears and frustrations and successfully navigated the longest trail on the hill. And one of my favorite parts of the whole day was watching my youngest son (who that morning, after only his second attempt ever skiing, said he wanted to sit on the sidelines all day because he was failing) go up and down the “bunny hill” three more times by himself before we left for home. Full of confidence. Having fun. Looking like he was born with skis.
Can you relate? Are there any area(s) in your life where your expectations are causing you frustration or discouragement because they are out of alignment with your experience level? If so, don’t give up and don’t beat yourself up. Just commit to staying the course. I’ll help you with that, and I know you’ll help me too.
For your advantage,