One of the darker sides of the Internet is our exposure to world-class excellence.
Most would argue that it’s a good thing. But for every content creator, dreamer, athlete or artist out there, there’s a strong side-effect to seeing perfection seemingly attained so easily.
If we’re writing a talk, we can watch or listen to the best speeches ever recorded. If we’re trying to accomplish something physically, there’s an incredibly high chance we can jump on YouTube to see someone who’s done it already. If we’re creating something beautiful, we have personalised feeds, filled with curated content that we love from all over the world to inspire us, full of art we wished we’d created.
I don’t know if you feel like this, but sometimes I am overwhelmed by excellence. This is one of the strongest barriers that keeps me from writing. Sure, the bar of entry to creating is lower than ever before, but despite the ease of which I could set up a website and a blog, the paralysis that kept me from doing it for so long was the desire to be brilliant and perfect, first-time around.
We are surrounded by excellence, and it can feel like everything we find is fully formed. Turns out, our brains are wired to find the ‘fully-formed’ narrative compelling because it lets us off the hook from having to try and fail. We prefer our excellence “fully formed”.
Everyone who started did not begin at genius. Some chemicals in their brain may have made them more disposed to adapt to the gains they made as they practiced, but it could have also been good luck, good timing or privilege.
We all know that the intense desire to be the best can stymie any chance of starting. So, how do you begin in a world where world-class excellence is already available at the stroke of a keyboard?
Aim for excellence. Aim to be the best. Let that motivate you into working hard and learning more about your it.
But stop aiming for perfection. You must simply start. Because if you’re scared of not being excellent, you will never begin anything. You will never release the song that is inside of you.
There may feel like myriad forces conspiring to stop you from doing what you want to do. Others have written about this better than I have, so if that’s how you feel, pick up The War of Art by Steven Pressfield from your local library today and carve out an afternoon for it. It will be the shot of adrenaline you need.
Remember, excellence can be measured many ways. Sure, there’s the person who knows the most facts or swims the fastest or raises the most money or wins the most awards or has the highest retention in their business.
But how do you measure the best piece you read last year? The kindest random act for a stranger? The most generous networking introduction? The most beautiful film? The most heart-warming meal?
Perfection is an illusion.
In most of the things that matter, excellence is as well.
There is not as much in your way as you are telling yourself there is.
Remember, any day can be Day One.