In my last post titled, “A Fear of Success and the Elevation of Others,” I wrote the following:
Education is about elevation.
Not only of our students but of one another. Everything we do to create better opportunities for those we serve should be cheered on and learned from, but they don’t have to be replicated in every classroom as it is. We all bring different strengths, passions, and talents to our classrooms, and utilizing them to provide great but varied experiences, is beneficial to learning.
One thing that is important to me is that we, as adults, are modeling the practice of elevating other adults and inspiring them to succeed in meaningful ways. Not only is this beneficial to others, but ourselves. When I do things to help others, it selfishly leads me to have a better feeling about myself. To know that I had a part in amplifying someone’s message or helping them in some way to get to a higher level of success is something that I find satisfying. But it is also modeling something to our students (and children) as well. Why would kids cheer on one another if the adults are not doing the same?
I can feel some jealousy when others have reached a level of success that I haven’t. My recent progress with my own physical health (I am approximately 95 pounds down from where I was in August 2020) has been through taking time to learn from others and apply the lessons to my own journey. Before, though, I would often see someone in great shape and feel that they are just “lucky” or it was an easy path for them. In reality, we often don’t see the process of the work being done by others but can quickly want their results.
I have seen so many variations of this image, and it has always made me think.
(UPDATE…This picture was originally created by Sylvia Duckworth and can be found here.)
Now that being said, there are things that people have on their way to success in any endeavor that I might not be able to have access to, and vice-versa. But what I have really tried to focus on is not on what I don’t have the ability to do, but the opposite. Again, going back to my weight loss goals, you might have a higher metabolism than I do for genetic reasons. I have a bit of control over changing my metabolism, but I can focus more on my eating habits and exercise routines — those things I can control and do something about.
I want to expand on the idea of “Success of Others” from the above image.
1. How can I learn from the success of others?
Although I can easily become jealous and bothered by someone else’s success, that hasn’t ever helped me in my own growth. What I really try to do (and sometimes fail at) is to focus on what things can I do that they are doing to find success in this area? For example, I wanted to write a book years ago and looked at what other great writers do. Seth Godin was someone who had several successful books, but I also noticed that he wrote daily. So I figured the only way to become a better writer is by constantly and consistently write. Will I achieve the same level of success that any person currently has if I implement that practice? Maybe? Or maybe not. Or maybe a different success. But ultimately, I am not trying to be Seth Godin or someone else, but a better version of myself. Learning from that practice is essential, but it also leads to the second point.
2. Compare yourself to yourself.
I really want to be in great shape, but I also have stopped comparing my journey to anyone else’s. There are things that I have shared that anyone wanting to get healthier can learn from (I discussed these things in a recent podcast about my weight loss), but ultimately, I am trying to be better than I was yesterday. Over the past 72 weeks (as of writing this), I have been documenting my fitness journey on my Instagram stories. I didn’t realize how valuable this documentation would be, but I often look back at the stories.
Here is a picture of me from 46 weeks ago:
And one from this week where I am now 95 pounds down from where I started:
It almost looks like two different people.
It is me working at one point to become a better version of myself and finding success in the lessons that I have learned from others in pursuit of my own growth. I am proud of the first picture you see of me because I was in there trying to get better, as I am still doing today. The second picture would not be possible without the first.
When you connect the two points above, here is a one-sentence statement that makes sense to summarize.
“Find inspiration from the success of others to apply to your own journey so you can find inspiration in yourself.”
A lot can be learned from the success of others, and we should apply those lessons. But it is just as important to stop and find inspiration in your own progress to continue to move forward.