Ever since I was ill – and still today – people tell me that they feel bad moaning about their problems when I faced the very real possibility of death.
I find it an odd juxtaposition: not everyone may face death face-to-face, but that’s doesn’t make any difference to the size of your problems. Everything’s relative and one person’s minor annoyance can be another’s game changer.
Everyone’s ‘Big’ is different
Just because something you’re doing doesn’t seem as big or significant as someone else, that doesn’t make it any less of a challenge or any easier to complete.
To many, a half-marathon is like a poor-man’s marathon, or part of a build-up training plan to the full 26.2 miles. But for Tor it’s a mountain of intimidating proportions. Talking to her, she’s genuinely worried that she might not make it round.
No doubt anyone who’s ever run 13 miles will sympathise with her journey to get to the start line from a barely-standing start and, because of her story, she is admirable, remarkable and inspirational in equal measure.
But she’s also a perfect example of judging your own goals and actions on their own merits and not on those of other people.
Set your own standards
None of us should judge our lives by anyone else’s measure. Our lives are ours alone and should be lived the way we want to.
Too often we compare ourselves to others – be it our friends, siblings or, most harmfully, people we don’t even know but just follow on Twitter or share updates with on Facebook.
Comparing ourselves to the standards set by others can be healthy – that little spur of competition to keep us motivated and moving forward – but judging ourselves on their performances is intensely damaging.
My biggest bugbear about direct comparisons is through all the adventure blogs out there documenting people doing crazy, insane things like throwing themselves off bridges or free-falling from the open door of a plane.
Yes, it’s something to which some of us aspire, but just because it involves doing something not many people would be willing to do does’t mean it’s the only type of adventure out there.
To me, adventure isn’t about doing crazy things, it’s about pushing your own boundaries. It’s not about doing what everyone else finds difficult, it’s about doing what you find hardest.
It was that wise old bird Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” and she was spot-on.
She didn’t say, “throw yourself off a bridge everyday with elastic tied to your ankles” or “jump in the sea with sharks”. Just something that scares you.
Fear is a good thing, because it tells us when we’re truly pushing our own boundaries. And pushing our boundaries is the way we learn, grow and move on to new challenges.
Talking to people
A perfect example came at our wedding. We decided to go traditional with the speeches, which meant we had the Father-of-the-bride, the Groom and the Best Man.
For me, standing up in front of 150 people to deliver a speech was one of my smaller crowds.
The lack of Lords and Ladies, any pressure to raise money for a charity or need to be funny – that’s the Best Man’s job, after all) made it easier, too.
For my newly-minted Father-in-law and Gary, the Best Man, I had to remember that actually, this was a huge group of people in a very intimidating venue.
And, of course, not everyone in the room new them; although they still had a receptive and keen audience, it’s not the same as talking to a room full of people that you know every single one of, as I was.
Both gents did an amazing job, giving wonderful, heartfelt speeches and making people laugh along the way. But it would have been super-easy for me to forget that this was a big deal for the two of them, that it was something of an adventure because they were pushing their boundaries, their comfort zones well and truly left behind.
Whatever you’re doing in life, stop comparing yourself to others in what you achieve.
We all have our own fears, our own worries, our own goals. One person’s mountain can be another’s molehill, but never belittle the climb that another has to take; never mock the marathon they run over the distance that would take you two strides.
Judging others is, frankly, poor form. But judging yourself based on others is even more destructive.
Live life your way and you’ll find happiness and fulfillment in any adventure you take on.
What are you most scared of pursuing in your life right now? What one thing do you wish you could achieve in the next 6 or 12 months? Leave a comment below and we’ll all share alike.
There’s more about living life adventurously and comparing ourselves to others in The Art of the Second Chance, my FREE eBook that you can receive as soon as you sign-up for blog updates and exclusive content. Just click here.
Some other posts you might like:
- Stepping up
- A case-study in getting started: 363 days to go
- Step Off The Platform: a lesson on battling fear
- Why being passive gets you nowhere (or why you should take action today)
- Getting up and going. Again.