My 5-year-old son watched his cousin play in a basketball game. She was the largest and most athletic girl on the court, scored 22 of her team’s 26, and led them to an emphatic victory. His comments revealed the impression it made on him, especially in light of his own league starting later in the week. “Dad, am I going to be the tallest kid on my team?” I could see where this was headed — he clearly associated “tallest” with “best”. While I’m thrilled he wants to be the best, I want him to get another lesson than “you’re born with it.“After contemplating, I realize that adults have the same mentality, just covered up with more social grace. We rarely put ourselves voluntarily in situations where we don’t expect to be the best, if not at least successful. And it hurts our ability to become better. If my goal is to be a better (the best?) tennis player, I do myself a disservice (pun intended) to play only with players who are as good or not as good as me. I get better by playing better folks.I just finished a course this week where a participant gave the feedback — “I’m glad you pushed me. You didn’t let me skate.” Would that we had such an opportunity in all areas of our lives. When it comes to communication skills, if we only see folks who are at our skill level or below, it’s unlikely we’ll progress (and we ALL can progress). That’s why it’s so important to constantly ‘sharpen the saw’ (as Covey puts it) and to seek out environments that challenge us. I’ve found just studying the masters of the craft to be fascinating. The web makes it easy. Few people take the time to do it.
Force yourself to be pushed by those who are better than you.