By Brad Yates
Imagine, just for a moment, that you love track and field…particularly the high jump event…
Imagine that you’ve shelled out big bucks to sit right in front of the high jump at the Olympics…
Imagine that Javier Sotomayor, world record holder, is preparing to jump an 8.5 foot high bar…
He begins his approach, and…
Stops in front of the bar and starts complaining about how high it is!
“This is too hard! I can’t do this! I’m going home.”
What would you think…?
You’d probably think he had no right to complain. After all, he’s the one who got himself to this level of competition. And he chose this event – he didn’t have to be a high jumper.
Guess what…you are choosing your life.
Yup – we create our lives, and the challenges that come with it. So, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to complain about it.
If Javier attempted the jump, but didn’t clear it, we could forgive him. (Unless you had money on the event…) We’d applaud him for his effort, and still be impressed with what he had managed up to this point. And, we’d know there is always tomorrow.
What about when you hit the bar? Do you feel like a failure? You haven’t failed until you quit. There may be a limited number of attempts in a sporting event, but not in life. The bar may have been set too high – but better too high than too low.
What if Javier came out and successfully completed his jump… but the bar was only set at 2 feet high…?
You might be left with, “I paid good money to watch this…?!?”
What would you think if Javier insisted that he had only signed on to do the 2 foot hop, and also expected a huge endorsement contract for his achievement…?
How often do you look at what’s showing up in front of you and start complaining, insisting that you only wanted to do the 2 foot hop?
Now, it is also true that we don’t really want to see the bar set at 15 feet high - such that we are anticipating something astounding – only to watch Javier clear the bar … by going under it…! In the high jump, the bar is raised in increments of only a few centimeters from the last successful jump. It is not unreasonable for you to do the same.
Whatever the height of the bar in front of you – that’s what you signed up for. There were no guarantees that you would clear it the first time out – or ever. But part of you decided that was the challenge you needed.
Of course, it might not have been a healthy part of you. There may be some part of you that feels a need to fail – to be punished.
Either way, there is a gift in what is in front of you.
You run, you jump, and… either you succeed, or you learn. It’s win/win.
The lesson may be that you need to work on your technique. You may need to improve your training regimen, or your diet, or your coach.
The lesson may be that you’ve come as far as you can in this event, and there is another event where you will be more successful.
It may be that you learn that you never cared for the high jump, and only did it because your parents wanted you to do so – and with this understanding you can heal the past and find your own way.
And…well, there are plenty of ways to interpret the lessons – some more healthy than others. Choose the one that leaves you empowered to move forward, rather than the one that leaves you beating up on yourself.
We enjoy watching events where people give us their best. It’s not just in sports. No one wants to watch Robert DeNiro “phone in” his performance. No one goes to the ballet to watch the Baryshnikov jump in the air and spin just once.
So, why are we so surprised when we’ve set the bar higher for ourselves in this lifetime? Why are we shocked that we didn’t choose monotony?
And, if monotony is what we have, we tend to complain about that, too. It’s a sure sign we haven’t raised the bar high enough for ourselves.
Some people are never happy unless they are complaining. Don’t be one of them.
You chose to be here for the excitement – you signed on for the whole shebang. So…
Imagine that you are at the Olympics, preparing to do the high jump…
You chose the event, you chose the height, and the crowd is eagerly awaiting your attempt…
Be grateful for the opportunity, give it your best shot, and you are sure to be a winner.