As a runner, I’ve taken both first place and dead last. While it’s nice to get a ribbon, or a trophy, what’s most gratifying is running faster than I have ever before.
Runners call this a PR or Personal Record. But PRs are not just for running. This concept can be applied to many areas of life. With the key principle being that: You are always trying to beat You. Following this philosophy is both freeing and at the same time overwhelming. On the positive side, you will never again have to worry about what other people think of you. You can get last in a race. You can stutter through a speech. You can get up on stage and sing Karaoke. As long as you feel that what you’ve done is an honest effort, then it was good enough (and in the true spirit of PRs it is an effort that can be improved). The converse is that it’s hard to tell what your best actually is. Unlike running, which can be measured by a clock, other efforts are difficult to gauge. How can you tell if you are a good person? A patient listener? Contributing enough to your community?
There aren’t any easy answers to these types of questions, but it seems that truly successful people ride the line. The line that falls in-between too much and too little. For runners, this means pushing until it hurts but resting before getting injured.