A few days ago I was watching an old video of myself directing and singing with one of my old choirs. When the video ended, I laughed and said to myself "I wasn't as good as I remembered!" If you would have asked me six years ago, during that moment, I would have told you that it was one of my best performances to date! However, many years removed, my mistakes and flaws were fully amplified for my eyes to see. This realization was hard for me to accept because, like most humans, I romanticize my past successes in life. Nonetheless, when the reality of a moment is revealed without the deceptive opacity of my one-sided view, I am forced to confront the truth. Though talented, I had and still have so much room for growth.
This bias-free self-reflection is what I and so many others need daily as we seek to improve. Failing to rise to this level of self-awareness could prevent one from truly improving in areas of weakness. Taking time to acknowledge weaknesses is a critical component in self-development.
Now, I must say, the aforementioned flaws were normal for a person of my age, experience, and maturity. At that stage of my growth, though rough around the edges, the flaws and mistakes did not hinder me from receiving respect and admiration from my peers and future employers. In reality, success and the need for growth can co-exist. Success is not perfection.
Taking the time to assess a past achievement and acknowledge the growth opportunities in that experience is what I like to call “a reevaluation experience.” Intentionally embarking on a reevaluation experience supports growth. Continued growth requires a healthy balance of success, failure, and setbacks. The value in having a reevaluation experience is that it frees you from former standards and drives you to aim higher. In truth, relevance and success are usually afforded to those who soberly celebrate their past while also recognizing the longevity of life and its ever-moving goal post. Successful people appreciate and strive for continued growth.
I must also caution that when embarking on a reevaluation experience, doing so with a spirit of gratefulness is key. Do not allow your journey to lead you to a life of unhappiness, discontentment, and grief.
When we study the greatest amongst us, a unifying attribute is discovered in each of their journeys. Tenacity. The quality or fact of continuing to exist. Consider Lebron James, the late Congressman John Lewis, or Beyoncé each of these individuals activate their tenacity and commit to excellence in everything they do. Learning new things, putting away old things, and committing to the same level of discipline that first helped them attain their respective dominance is what separates them from their peers, and is what will differentiate the good from the great. Role models for success are honest with themselves about where they are in their development, and where they want to be.
Transparently, I am not there yet. However, I am challenging myself daily, and I challenge you to do the same.