“We make progress by overcoming ourselves. We do not make progress by overcoming others”. This is a strange idea, not because it is new, but because it is unfamiliar to our usual ways of thinking.
This naturally leads to, “What does it mean to overcome one’s self?”
I’ll explain it this way, “The tortoise won his race against the hare because he overcame himself”. This is different from the usual, “Tortoise won because Hare messed up”.
The tortoise didn’t win because hare messed up. Tortoise won because of his focus and discipline to process. That has nothing to do with Hare’s lack of this or lack of that, or too much of what it is not.
And why did Hare lose his race?
For the same reason we lose ours. We did not overcome ourselves.
There is a tendency to characterize our less than stellar encounters as ones in which we were overwhelmed by circumstances.
Indeed, we lionize “the hotter the battle the sweeter the victory,” and before long we are looking for bigger, hotter, and more violent battles to be conquering warriors in our own eyes. That is not victory. It is defeat.
There are no orchards out there to grow and harvest if we cannot overcome ourselves to lovingly tend our gardens. No big races to win if we keep neglecting our training and our fidelity to process, to be undaunted by dark skies or cold rain as we give each other our best.
In short, we make progress by embracing the unfolding challenge of our commitments.
Why do we have to overcome ourselves? We have flaws, glitches, and tendencies that if they are not corrected will detour us inevitably to failure.
Talent, intellect, or skill will be bested by discipline, good ethics and a compass that can find its way in the darkest fog.
Circumstances can be unchoreographed, but what’s in you is more than a match for circumstances.
But it requires practice to get the best out of yourself. Enjoy the practice and overcome yourself. Be more than the fury of a storm. Be calm.
Peter Peterkin, Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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