Life is not lived on a Pass/Fail grading scale. However, many of us feel the need to end each day with such extreme weighted grades. The day was either success or failure. That’s absolute thinking and life is far more relative than absolute. That’s why the grading scale goes from A+ all the way down to F. Both success and failure have wiggle room. We also don’t often allow ourselves the luxury of marking periods; a duration of time to reflect back on a periods in our lives to gather up enough data to make informed decisions about how we are doing. Moreover, we often overlook the beauty of getting a C.
The slogan “Life is Good” really means to appreciate the notion that balance is what we need. Life’s grading scale: C is good, B is better, A is best, A+ is stellar, D is not great, E is worse, F is rock bottom. In reality, are our days either “stellar” or “rock bottom?” Likely not, yet we likely know people who devote their energy to such extremes. How draining it must be to live only knowing extreme highs and lows. There’s no balance. Life teeters! Teetering gives us perspective to know the difference between what we want to push ourselves towards, and what we want to move away from. That’s balance! When life is good, we have the energy to push for excellence. Energy comes from knowing the value of balance.
What do we have to do today? Live and be where we are. That’s it! Everything else we experience is put upon us by our expectations and desires for outcomes to situations we cannot control. That informs how we feel about what’s happening. As we know, when how we feel is at the mercy of either what’s happened or what happens next, that doesn’t bode well for feeling good.
To be means to exist. It doesn’t mean thinking about how or why we exist. There is no suffering to existence, because there is no feeling. To feel is to be aware of our existence. Suffering comes from our devotion to how we feel about what’s already happened or fearing the worst about what hasn’t happened yet.
Anger is neither armor nor umbrella. If it were, it would be armor made of bubble wrap or an umbrella made of sponge. Ineffective. Anger can only be used effectively as a weapon against us. But that too is ineffective if we already know that using anger to combat anger is fruitless. Self-control is impenetrable. Our self-control may anger others, but that’s outside our sphere of influence and not worth our time.
The next time you are on the receiving end of an unexpected behavior by another person, be it a co-worker, neighbor, stranger, or even some family members, may you remember this: They have been them longer than they have known you.
Then ask yourself: Was their behavior a reaction to something I did or said? Was my unexpected behavior the initiate?
Perhaps means “to express uncertainty or possibility.” What’s interesting here is that uncertainty is defined as something “unpredictable, unreliable, precarious or risky,” while possibility is defined as something “that may happen, the fact of being possible or likely.” There’s contradiction in the definition; one that creates balance. A balance that can only be achieved by questioning and reflecting on multiple potential outcomes. It’s a word that’s both optimist and pessimist, and somehow also neither. It’s a fulcrum. A fulcrum offers support to separate the work from the effort. Perhaps that’s a good metaphor for the purpose of self-reflection. Perhaps self-reflection offers clarity to our purpose.
The real problem with perfection is not the pursuit of excellence, but rather the ignoring of those whom are already the “best” in the areas in which we aim to exceed. Perfection is a batting a thousand. Baseball legend, Ty Cobb, retired in 1928 and managed to have a career batting average of .367 over the course of 24 seasons. To have a 63% failure rate and be considered one of the best or “the best” holds some interesting data.
Those aiming to be better than “the best” are shooting for a 62% failure rate. It hasn’t been achieved in 90 years in terms of baseball, and yet there are Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers that are incredible ball players. None of them are striving to bat a thousand. Why? Because a 62% failure rate would make them legendary. We can all learn from those statistics to inform how we approach and define success. Success is stepping up to the plate having learned something from our previous at bats. Perhaps instead of striving to “Keep it 100,” if we aim to “Get it 62,” we will all be legendary.
Threshold is defined as either “a strip of wood, metal, or stone forming the bottom of a doorway and crossed in entering a house or room,” or “the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.” The symbolism in crossing thresholds in our lives often gets overlooked. The days we first step foot onto or into new territory. Our first days of school, our first days at a new job, our first days walking into the same workplace with a new title after a promotion, our first steps into a new living space, our first steps into our homes carrying a newborn, watching our children take their first steps, etc.
Regardless of the threshold that is being crossed, these are all beginnings. It’s all the start of something new, and for all the excitement, there’s an equal amount of fear. The fear of knowing what’s in our control and our concerns about our ability to navigate that well, and the fear of knowing so much more will inevitably be out of our control than we care to acknowledge and reacting to those experiences with a modicum of grace. The good news here is being perfect from day one of anything is impossible. This is true because perfection, the complete absence of error, is impossible. Imperfection is essential in order to be able to cross new thresholds.
In 99.9999% of all situations we experience, the thresholds we cross have been crossed before by others. The only perfect thing that happens in any new experience is that any threshold is the perfect place to start learning how to expand on what we already know. The process of learning comes with a full-spectrum of emotions and experiences, all of which are part of our stories. If we were fortunate enough to wake-up today, what thresholds will we dare to cross? If we are fortunate enough to wake-up tomorrow, what will take from today to help us know what thresholds we want to exceed?