How to Avoid a Losing Mindset

When I run, I’m about as good at covering distance as a corgi (but without the enthusiasm). Still, I understand how to train and improve, so if you’re not a runner either, you’ll still feel me on this:

When you train for a race, you have no idea if your training times are faster than your opponents. You have no way of knowing where you stand until race day.

Blind to that information, how hard do you push yourself when you practice? When the only performance you have to measure progress is your own, do you aim to beat your own times?

There are not many people that, without the anticipation of comparison, will work as deliberately on their own.

On the other hand, a select few will not feel satisfied unless they’re continually improving, and even then, when shown that someone else is faster will feel disappointed in their own abilities.

But when we don’t even have a race coming up, we’ll still find a way to feel disappointed in ourselves. Like when you say, "I’m x years old, and I haven’t built a successful business yet" or "I only lost 15 pounds in 12 weeks, but I saw someone else lost 20 in that same time."

What are you racing for? The satisfaction of saying you did something at a younger age, or accomplished something in a faster time?

The only thing that the progress of others affects is how you feel when you compare yourself.

Someone else’s results have no bearing on your ability to do well, to make progress, and to perform at your best.

In the 2016 Olympics, Usain Bolt won the 100m sprint with a time of 9.81 seconds. Five other men finished with times under 10 seconds. When you take that information standing alone, a human that can run *100m in under 10 seconds* do you think any one of them should be disappointed?

Naturally, when those men ran that race, each of them wanted to take home a gold medal. But most (if not all) of what YOU do in life is not training for an Olympic race.

...which is a good thing.

If you don’t launch your own business until you’ve retired from your job at 65, have you lost a race? If your business doesn’t make as much profit as someone else’s in its first year, has that year been a failure? If you work to lose weight and don’t lose as much as your friend, have you wasted that time?

-> The measurements that you use to determine your success or failure are entirely based on your beliefs about what you think you "should" be able to achieve.

-> The measurement that you use to determine your progress is your own performance. Are you putting in the effort to improve day after day?

Both of these factors, your beliefs and your efforts, are within your control.

If you’re running a literal race, evaluate your efforts and decide if there’s more you can do. If you’re not running a race, evaluate your efforts and decide if there’s more you can do. The only loss will be if you are making excuses, wasting time on tasks that aren’t important, or ruminating on what someone else is up to.