Recently I told someone, “I am constantly identifying things I need to work on. I have this dream of one day being awesome, so I gotta get a move on”.
The response was not what I would have expected, but very wise nonetheless. You see, it seems I may have been looking at this the wrong way all along.
Let’s face it, we all have things about ourselves we’d like to change. And most of us recognize our own shortcomings. I have always believed it was ok to be less than perfect as long as I was aware of my own issues and consciously working on correcting them.
For example, I have a bad habit of zoning out during conversations. I listen to the first few words of what a person is saying to me and make a cursory decision as to whether it is important to continue listening or switch focus to one of the other countless things going on in my head. I always justified it as “multitasking”, and believe it or not, a lot of people don’t even realize it is happening. But some do, and they are the reason I decided to make an effort to change the behavior. I had “gotten away with it” for years, until certain friends actually started to be interested in my feedback and cared what I thought about their statements.
That’s just one example. There are many more, but not to worry, because the underlying goal is to one day achieve complete awesomeness, right?
Nope, that was my old way of thinking, which was based on the precept that I would keep working on myself for an undetermined amount of time, whittling away at what I thought needed to be fixed, constantly looking into the future for some magic moment when I’d be satisfied. So, in essence I would spend my life trying to walk up the down escalator.
But I was presented with an alternative. “Don’t think of it as something to obtain, think that you’re already awesome and just working on some improvements.”
Who knew it could be that simple?
Suddenly, I had a stack of achievements under my belt. When I made an effort to pause before making a negative comment and instead came up with a positive spin for a conversation – that was one. When I gave in and finally let people have an inkling of how I was feeling, rather than hiding from human relationships – that was another. Victory after victory became evident, and no matter how small, they all counted. They added up to the person I am today, which is by definition the best that I can be, regardless of any pending enhancements.
It reminds me of a development methodology I use at work.
I’m about to get super nerdy here, so feel free to skip ahead.
Anyway, back in the old days of software design, we would spec out a software project, meet with end users and then the programmers would go off and write code, sometimes for months, until the whole product was finished. Then we would show it to the users for review, which sometimes resulted in major rewrites.
However, in the last few years, my team and I have adopted a method called “Agile”. The basic idea is to break software projects into “sprints”. These sprints are small functional pieces of the overall product, which should take approximately two weeks to complete. After each sprint the progress is shown to the users so adjustments can be made before it’s too late, and positive feedback can be given sooner, thus motivating and energizing the team along the way.
So why not apply this “Agile” methodology to the project of my life, setting small achievable goals, and tracking success as I go so it can be celebrated and in turn used to keep me inspired. Now instead of always viewing myself as broken and in need of repair, I become a fully functional base product with several upgrades or optional accessories that can be added in the future. I no longer need to chase some Krazy idea of the perfect me, because each version in itself is better than the last and certifiably awesome.