Wisdom Wednesday – Progress Not Perfection

Photo Jan 11, 6 25 33 PM

Don’t compare your middle to someone else’s end.  That’s not the punchline to a dirty joke, those are words that all of us need to remind ourselves of every once in a while.  This isn’t just a piece of disc golf advice, this is invaluable life advice.  We have a terrible tendency to look at the best people doing anything we want to do and think they were just born that way.

We don’t see the hours of struggle and pain these top performers put into getting where they are.  We just think we should be much better than we are, we beat ourselves up, and we get discouraged.

It is so easy to watch the pros in our sport play and then become very unhappy with our game.  It’s very common to beat ourselves up when we miss a 20 foot putt.  It’s a normal thing to yell at yourself for hitting the first available tree right off the tee.  Paul McBeth doesn’t miss 20 foot putts, right?  Will Shusterick doesn’t hit first available, right?

First of all, McBeast does occasionally miss 20 foot putts and Shusterick does occasionally hit the first available tree.  Just not that often.  No one is perfect.  No one.

Second of all, while we all chase perfection, we have to realize that some people are further along that road than others.  If you have only been playing for a couple of years, it’s not fair to compare yourself to the pros you see playing 1000 rated golf.  Even if you have been playing for as many years as they have, you don’t have the thousands of hours of practice they do.  There is no reason to expect your current abilities to match theirs.

This can be especially painful for brand new players.  I certainly remember going out to the course the first year I played and being completely depressed.  I couldn’t throw the disc more than 100′-150′, it was usually straight up in the air, and I often landed a fairway or two to the left of where I was aiming.  All this while watching experienced players do amazing things with their discs.

[tweetthis]The only person you should compete with is yourself. [/tweetthis]

No matter our level of experience, we all get caught up in comparing ourselves to others.  The problem is that it doesn’t matter what others can do.  How you compare to someone else should be left for tournaments.  That’s the only place that this really ever matters or comes into play.  Even then, that’s only a measure of your performance and their performance at one tournament over just a couple of rounds on one particular day.  It’s not a great judge of what kind of disc golfer you are.  It’s also why there are so many different divisions.

So if you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, who should you compare yourself to?  That’s easy.  Yourself.  The only thing that matters is whether or not you are better today than you were yesterday.  It doesn’t even really matter how much.  The goal is progress, not perfection.

Think about it this way.  If every week you improved just 2%, you would be more than twice as good as you are now in only one year’s time.  Just a minute improvement every day can get you those results.  If you are a new disc golfer, it’s not unrealistic to expect to improve at least 5% per week.  That means you are almost 3 times as good in a year’s time.  If you work hard at it, even a 10% per week improvement is doable for someone brand new to the sport.  At least for the first few months anyway.

So remember, don’t compare your middle to another person’s end.  You’ll never benefit from the result.  Instead, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.  Focus on getting just a little bit better every day.  Do this in disc golf and you’ll become one hell of a disc golfer.  Do this in life and anything you want in life can be yours.