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Monday, October 22, 2007

Asking to Give Up

So often the difference between success and failure depends not on the individual but on the people mentoring the individual. Here, mentor is defined broadly to include anyone who influences the individual's choices. An individual will meet the standard expected of him or her. This is my "Asking to Give Up" theory that I'm developing as I write. And I'll finish explaining it in the second person so I can turn all those annoyingly long "an individual" phrases into "you".

When in pursuit of a goal, you ask to give up until someone, or a critical mass of someones, lets you. Anyone with whom you have direct contact and whose opinion you respect is someone who can allow you to give up: parents, teachers, coaches, bosses and friends, for example. These are the same people, however, who have the influence to hold you to a higher standard and prevent you from giving up. (Please note that this is not a theory on parenting; I am utterly unqualified and unwilling to venture to express an opinion on parenting.)

You read this and say smugly to yourself, "I don't ask to give up-- what a pathetic thing to do!" But I ask you to pause and be a little more self critical. Start by assuming you DO ask to give up and then build an argument for yourself otherwise; you will reach a more honest conclusion. Anytime you ask someone "is this good enough" or "have I done enough" you are asking to give up. Maybe you have given up before even starting a pursuit with an "I'm not going" or a "this is too complicated". I certainly have.

How amazing is it that someone can say to you: "finish that interval set" or "rewrite that essay" and you will do it and do it better than if that person had not been there pushing you to succeed? Today, that has been impressing me: the power of others to influence you. The power of coaches to say, "you're faster than this!" and for them saying it to make it true. The power of teachers to say, "you're smarter than your test score shows" and for them saying it to make it true. The power of a friend to say, "I think you're compassionate" and for them saying it to make it true. The power of words. The power of expectations. Today, I believe.

Eventually, when enough people have expected more of you than you have been willing to attempt, you stop asking to give up and start asking how far you can go.


Blogger Perhaps a Parrot said...

sounds like someone had a really good workout....

October 23, 2007 10:33 PM  

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