April 15 – Self defeat

“A person is not defeated by their opponents but by themselves.” (Ian Christiaan Smuts)

I am my own worst enemy. That isn’t just a cliché, I know it is true for me. Anytime I have failed, I was beaten by no one but myself. I am not talking here about athletic contests, those go to the strongest or most skilled at the sport, and I have no delusions about my athletic abilities. I am talking about the day to day victories and defeats in life. In those, I am the one who beats me.

The examples I could cite would fill two books. Each would have a few common themes as to why I defeated myself, but the one that all would boil down to is this…lack of belief in myself. That lack of belief, that lack of self-confidence is at the core of any failure I have had in my life. And the presence of self-confidence is at the heart of every success.

I have written recently about the power of belief in myself on several occasions, and on the debilitating effects of the lack of confidence. In those recent writings I focused on the effects of confidence at the start of a project. I talked about how if I don’t approach a challenge with the mindset that I can do it, then I surely will not.

But there is another way that a lack of self-confidence can creep in. When I am in the midst of something and I hit an inevitable road block, that is when the ugly head of self-doubt can rear up. For all that I have achieved, and for all that I am capable of doing, I still have an enormous ability to pack it in when the going gets tough. I look for en exit strategy when the path isn’t lined with flowers. Honestly, this form of self-doubt causes more pain than if I had never tried to begin with.

To read what I am writing one might think that I often shrink from a challenge, or that I have an inability to see things through. That isn’t true. Without being boastful, I have had my share of successes in life, and I have had plenty of projects and endeavors that I have seen through to the end without ever looking to get out despite the trials. What I am talking about here are those time when I didn’t make it to the end, and looking at why that has happened.

One of the hard things about this 365 project is that I chose a book of quotes that runs in themes. The author’s intent seems to be to give people a daily dose of understanding what they need to do – or to avoid – to be successful. As a result, some of my thoughts have been quite repetitive. At first blush that seems like a problem.

On second thought, it is in the repetition that I learn. It is in constantly looking at my track record of success and failure that I can learn and increase the odds of success in the future. By repeating these related ideas, I get stronger.

Today is tax day in the US. Fittingly, it snowed here where I live. Just when we thought that winter’s grip was gone, we had one (hopefully) last reminder of how awful the weather has been for the last 5 months. As I look out my window I see a mix of snow, green grass, budding trees, and some flowers. Spring is a transitional time. It is a time filled with hope for many, including myself. I am a summer person at heart. Working through this project and these quotes has been quite therapeutic. I have learned much about myself and look forward to continuing to grow through the remaining weeks and months.

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