A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite BA clients and I were talking about colleges…where her son went, where my son would go…the usual stuff. But then she said something that stuck with me in regards to her son’s college decision. She said, “He chose the perfect school for him because it offers plenty of opportunities for him to be successful in his own space.”
“In his own space…” I’ve not been able to stop thinking about that phrase because I think so many of us waste a lot of time trying to live in other people’s spaces. What do I mean? I mean comparing, contrasting, and trying to be something we’re not in order to land that job, get into that social circle etc, instead of focusing on what we have, where we are, WHO we are, and what success looks like for us based on those things.
For example, how many times have you looked at someone who has achieved something you aspire to and said to yourself, “oh I could NEVER do that because I’m not as smart, pretty, educated, talented….” as she is. But what if you COULD achieve your own level of success in the same field or the same level of success in a different field by being as smart, pretty, educated and talented as YOU are?
Nowhere have I found that to be more accurate than in the fitness world. It is so easy to look at someone who is killing it on the bike or in the gym and get discouraged because you’re measuring your success within that person’s space rather than your own. Sure the person next to you might have just made that intense cycle class look like a Sunday ride in the park, but did you add more resistance today? Did you get through the entire class without stopping? Did you achieve a set goal? Then you were successful in your space too. Own it!
The thing about our spaces is that they can change. Several months ago I was a much better outdoor cyclist than I am today because a bad fall and serious injury has shaken my confidence. My space is much different now and I could beat myself up all day about it by comparing myself to people much faster than me, or I could set myself up for success in my space by riding alone or in much smaller groups and celebrating the little victories—like overcoming a truckload of fear to get back on a bike in the first place.
There is an expression that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and speaking of “joy,” I am currently in training to be a JoyRide instructor. It would be REALLY easy to look at my talented BA partner and successful JoyRide instructor Wes, compare myself, and then try to copy his style to sell out studios----but it would NEVER work. Musical taste and passion for fitness aside, we don’t live in the same space--- we have not had the same life experiences that have made us who we are and define what we bring to the table to inspire, motivate, or connect with people. No one does—and that’s the point. When you are constantly focused on what success looks like in someone else’s space rather than your own, how can you ever expect to be authentic or to stand out in the crowd?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to succeed, but knowing and owning your space, and being confident in YOUR special skills and talents is critical to achieving that success. Sometimes that might mean redefining your definition of success, but it ALWAYS starts with defining who you are. Unless you know that, you will always try out someone else’s space—and while you might be able to fake it for a while, eventually you will fail on some level because you can’t truly succeed at something that isn’t authentically YOU. If you’ve ever tried to make a career out of a job you hate, you know what I’m talking about.
I don’t know who said this, but I love this quote: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” You have everything it takes to be successful—you just have to find your space in which to shine.