Of performance pressures…

We underestimate our own capabilities.

And by we, I mean everyone. Without exception.

I have seen this in various fields – be it martial arts, studies or work. We think that we aim high, but we aim a lot lower than we are capable of.

No, I don’t want to sound like one of those hyper self-improvement gurus. But it is true. Potential is seldom seen within.

We have been brought up with the notion that we have to compete, and so we tend to benchmark ourselves against someone else. The guy who stood first in class, the fighter who won the tournament, the paper billionaire who made it to the “30 under 30” list….

How we look, what we buy, what we feel – a constant comparison.

I feel that in order to recognize your own potential, you need to get out of everyone else’s shadow, and start competing only with yourself.

What does that mean? It’s quite simple really. Just try to be a better version of yourself every day.

And no, unlike a self-help guru who tells you that this is a constant climb, don’t rest and don’t be satisfied etc…I feel it is work in progress. Somedays, you are a better version of what you were earlier. Other days, you tend to fall back a little.

And that is ok. It is enough that society pressures you already…you don’t need to put undue pressure on yourself.

Don’t live life like that 6-day 7 night vacation package to Europe, where you end up visiting so many places, yet reach nowhere special.

That happens because you want to experience so much in so little time – too much pressure. Relax – it is a vacation. It’s ok if you miss a place or two from the agenda.

Likewise, a day or two in the scheme of things won’t change much. As long as you recognize that you haven’t been your best, and you resolve to try harder the next day -it is ok!

And only when you relax this way, and approach life and work without the overbearing compulsion to do something for the sake of it…that is when you begin to understand what you are truly capable of.

There is no ceiling, no benchmark, just you doing your thing.

I say that you throw the knockdown kick when you don’t expect it. It just happens. The relaxed, but alert, mind is able to unconsciously spot an opening, and bhammm – the leg shoots out by reflex, leaving the opponent on the floor.

In life too, the best ideas come when you don’t think about them. The best work is done when you don’t actually try to work. And you find your best self, when you stop looking at others.

Because Usain Bolt would have never broken the world record if he spent his time looking in the rearview mirror.

Wake up, start from tomorrow. A brand new day. A brand new way of approaching work, love and life.