This morning I did my “stairs workout” alone – 10 sets (70 floors) with 10 full push-ups at the top, 10 squats at the bottom wearing a weighted vest.
The first few times I have done it it’s been with a group of awesome guys. Super-fit, who have a high standard of excellence for their physical training because they need it for their job. I am not at their level of fitness, although I hold my own.
Today I did the same session on my own. I’m intrinsically motivated so have no problem pushing myself to a) get out the door to do it and b) to do it with intensity. But it wasn’t the same. I didn’t finish with quite the same euphoria of having been challenged or inspired by a level higher than where I’m currently at. To me, that inspiration instils excitement in the possibility and curiosity around what can be achieved.
While I was walking to my car reflecting on how appreciative I felt to have done that same session previously with people who inspired me and how I’d really missed it today, a fit-looking woman stopped me and said “I just wanted to say you are such an inspiration. I see you often, you look fantastic, and I always feel so inspired, I just wanted to tell you”. It took me aback and actually made me a bit emotional as I wasn’t feeling inspirational at the time! It challenges me to share what she said with you as I’m not a “look at me, I’m amazing” person, but it’s relevant for my reflection.
As is often the case, my physical training gives me insights and analogies about life. To be an Outstanding Human, it’s essential to be intrinsically motivated. To be able to do things to a high standard alone when needed or when chosen. The danger in that is – do that chosen thing alone for long enough, and it’s easy to settle for your current standard, thinking you are as good as you can be.
My reflection is how important it is to have people around you who are better than you at the thing you want to improve at. It takes courage and vulnerability to seek those people out. It takes being confident enough in your starting point to not feel self-judgement of “I’m not enough”, but rather “this is my starting point, and I want to get better”.
If you feel self-judgement of “I’m not enough” you will surround yourself with people who are further back in their journey than you are just, so you feel better about yourself. (I’m not talking about their whole life journey; I’m talking about the area you’ve chosen to improve in). You’ll shy away from the challenge for fear of being found wanting. In the training analogy that would be like only training with people who you know you’ll beat every time as your fitness, strength or skill is superior. It may be great for your Ego; but not for your growth!!
My final reflection was a humbling reminder of the critical impact we have as role models on those around us even when we aren’t aware of it. That means the good, bad and ugly in the example we set. People are watching us and how we show up in the world and even setting their standards based on what they see if they look up to us – even when we don’t KNOW they look up to us, like the stranger this morning.
We owe those that we lead either consciously, or without our awareness, to keep raising our bar. For our own growth so we can serve better. But also so we are a better example for those who we are privileged to be a role model for, even without us realising.