Usain Bolt is in the news a lot at the moment, which I quite enjoy as I always think he’s one of those people in the spotlight you’d actually like to spend time with. He’s about to run his last race before retirement from athletics so there have been a number of articles and programmes reviewing his career. One such programme (BBC I think but don’t hold me to that) looked at how he developed from childhood into the world superstar he is today. They did a lot of the usual stuff that programme makers do in these circumstances like interviewing friends and parents, getting amusing anecdotes from them that gave us a glimpse of what he’s really like.
They also spent a reasonable amount of time looking at his training regime and the difficulties he had to overcome to be so successful. Something that I’ve seen many time before, but which still makes me stop and think, is the sheer hard work, discipline and sacrifice that is daily life for top athletes. When we see them perform we admire their talent and their ability but we don’t often think of the thousands of hours of sheer hard work that has made it possible for us to see such talent at it’s best. Every single one of us is the same. Obviously I don’t mean we could all run the 100m in less than ten seconds, I mean that we all have the same opportunity to be the best at what we do but it’s unlikely we need to make the same level of commitment that Usain Bolt and his peers make.
For most of us the path to being better doesn’t require hours of repetitive training drills, with an ice bath to follow, combined with a strict dietary regime. No, our route to personal improvement normally lies in much more achievable and minor actions. It might be taking a bit of extra time over that task we don’t really enjoy, listening (properly!) to that colleague who’s having a tough time at the moment or simply being more disciplined with our time and being a bit more organised.
None of us are perfect and, unfortunately, in this world of airbrushed images, supposedly wonderful lives broadcast through social media and the seeming desire of the press to represent everyone else as having a much better time than we are, it’s all too easy to keep looking at everyone else and think “Why isn’t that me?”. Surely the question we should be focussing on is “What’s the best version of me I can be?”.
Once we know the answer to that and continuously work towards it maybe all that fun everyone else seems to be having won’t be as quite as attractive because we’ll be thoroughly enjoying our lives. Perhaps an even better reason to be asking that question is because it’s so much more powerful leading others to continual improvement if we’re also continually striving to improve ourselves.