Why progress is more important than perfection
Updated: May 27, 2019
Every runner reaches a point in their life where they question why they run.
Whether its while they struggle to breathe during a half-marathon or when they take their first steps after not running for three weeks. Every runner questions, at some point, why they're even bothering in the first place.
It's human nature to feel frustration when the finish line isn't in sight.
We all experience it. The anger at yet another corner popping up in the distance right when you thought you were about to finish. The hopelessness that seeps in when you get set back and the finish line moves impossibly further away.
It happens to everyone.
In these moments we tend to shut down, we yell and scream, sometimes we cry or swear or contemplate throwing in the towel, and sometimes we do.
In those moments of frustration we decide to walk for a while.
We promise ourselves that when we recover a bit we'll run again, but for the time being we choose to walk.
It's in that moment that we cause the most damage to ourselves.
When we choose to slow down and walk instead of pushing through we injure ourselves more than just physically.
A persons mental health is a tricky thing. It balances on a tight rope above depression every day. Some days we falter and the rope wobbles underneath us, but it’s our choice whether we control it and continue on or let ourselves fall.
In the same way, when we choose to slow down and walk instead of continuing to run we allow the rope to get the better of us, we give it more time to wobble while we contemplate getting it under control.
If we only measure ourselves by whether we have reached perfection or not we will always be let down and the rope will endlessly wobble until it trips us up completely.
If we choose to measure ourselves each and everyday by what we have accomplished that day we will experience days of success and days of less success, but we will always remain in control of the rope.
Because there is a difference between failure and achieving less success than anticipated.
You can only fail if you don’t try.
So when we stop and walk for a few hundred metres we inch closer to failure because we choose to stop trying.
The problem is, too many people are so focused on the finish line that they forget why they run in the first place. No-one takes up running to achieve one goal and then never runs again.
Its a lifestyle choice.
Every runner knows why they run, every runner has their own reasons for running, but we all run because deep down we love it.
It's the same for every person.
Mathematicians have struggled countless times to understand complicated problems. At times I can assure you they question why they're even bothering in the first pace, but they continue to struggle because they love what they do.
A great maths teacher of mine once told me: It's not about about finding the solution to the problem, anyone could go look that up, it's about understanding the process and appreciating how you got there."
So the next time you're struggling through something, whether you're questioning why you continue to struggle remember that it's not about perfection.
It's not about crossing the finish line or mastering chess, it's about the small steps of progress you make every day towards achieving your goals.
In the end, they matter the most.