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The other day I found myself about 10 videos deep in a YouTube Suggestions Spiral. I started out watching one of my favourite shows/podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience and continued watching more and more of the suggested videos.
As I was going further and further down the rabbit hole, the videos I was watching were getting older and older. Soon enough I was watching videos from the earliest days of the show back in 2010.
But here’s where things got interesting.
What struck me most was when comparing some of the earliest videos to the newest, was the astonishing difference in quality. The image wasn’t in HD, the audio was subpar, the studio they were using was poorly lit, it had strange decorations, and Joe Rogan himself was an above average host at best.
I wanted to see how far this went, so I went to his video library and sorted it by oldest first. I went all the way back to Episode #1. I couldn’t have been more surprised. I mean, the first 5 minutes is pretty much just Joe trying to figure out how to properly use a live stream.
Now take that video and compare it to this clip from episode #1034.
(You should also watch this whole video. Lots to think about in regards to how we interact with one another.)
That’s a rather substantial difference wouldn’t you say?
In the end, all of this really got me thinking. It made me wonder about my website and the stupid things I worry about. All the tinkering with images, links, colours, layout, and every other pointless detail that doesn’t matter.
It reminded me of a great quote by Voltaire, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
Perfect or Nothing
How often do you let the pursuit of perfection hold you back from trying?
When we look at our heroes and see only the shiny finished product, we act as if they have always had everything flawlessly figured out. And the problem is that when we see these people that we admire doing the things we want to do, with what looks like no effort, we get discouraged when comparing it to ourselves.
As a result, we lose confidence and give up on our pursuits. We say things like, “I’ll never be as good as them.” or “If only I had ____.”
But why? You know that’s not true.
Or have you just decided to forget that this person probably put in years of hard work before they could get the spotlight?
When it comes to watching YouTube shows or listening to podcasts, we’re lucky because we have proof that even the best of the best had to start off at Episode #1. And seeing this can be incredibly encouraging for someone who is on a similar journey.
But what about us athletes? What evidence is there that our heroes also had their ugly years?
Well, to get things started, here are a few examples:
Here’s a 17-year-old Usain Bolt finishing 5th in a 200m sprint qualification round.
Conor Mcgregor losing his third MMA fight.
And my personal favourite is Charles Barkley’s atrocious golf swing. Which as you can see, it got way better.
What really encourages me the most about the infamous Barkley Swing, is the staggering number of videos available of it. Charles could have very easily played golf one time in public, got laughed at, and then never played again.
But instead, he came back, again and again – determined to play a sport that he wanted to get better at and prove others wrong. And through his sheer will, grit, and determination, he got better.
So, is that enough proof?
Well, if that’s not enough, I’ve got one more example for you.
That’s right, you are the greatest example of a work in progress. I mean just think back to your glory days when you first started playing your sport. Do you even remember how awkward and uncoordinated you were at the time? I wouldn’t be surprised if your parents sat there in disbelief thinking, “this is not my child!”
But then what happened?
You got better. You figured it out. And over time you improved.
Flash forward to the present and you’re still bursting with potential. But if you really want to continue improving, you must be willing to put in the same level of dedication and hard work that you did in the early days. You also have to cultivate a childlike enthusiasm for your sport and enjoy what you’re doing.
The good and the bad of little Derek
I wish I had more videos of myself playing volleyball in high school. Back then, I thought I was untouchable. But looking back now, I wasn’t anything spectacular. I was good, but nowhere near perfect.
In retrospect, it would be so easy to criticize little Derek. To look at his mindset and say that he was too confident and needed more humility (don’t worry, he eventually got what he deserved). But that would be a mistake. Because you know what he had that the current Derek sometimes lacks? Confidence in his ability to figure things out and a relentless capacity to brush off mistakes.
And in the end, do you know what little Derek got? He got to play for one of the best universities in the country.
But somewhere along the way, he lost that self-belief. He stopped trusting the process and instead chose to spend all his time comparing himself to others, rather than comparing himself to himself.
And that’s the final note I’d like to end on. You are all a work in progress, and the only person you should be comparing yourself to is our very own self. No one else, because you are your own competition.
You have to be vigilant and always fight to become your higher-self, rather than let your lower-self take over.
It’s okay to make mistakes, to look stupid, to fail. But if you never put yourself out there, you will NEVER improve. You have to be okay with just being ‘Good’ to start before you can achieve ‘Perfect’.
So, get out there and start failing.