The more I learn about competitive sports, the more I see how inherently good they are at teaching a very important life lesson: Challenge is the best catalyst for growth, so it should be embraced.
Nick Foles, the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, shared his thoughts on success after last Sunday’s game. His response was excellent, sincere, and important—and I was very excited to see someone of his prominence talking so openly and candidly about struggle.
Foles’ response indicts our cultural aversion to failure and reminds me that perfection of any sort is not the right goal. In spite of what we all heard during primary school, life and work are not about getting straight As, and they never should be.
Here’s why: If we spend all our time trying to get straight As, we’re naturally going avoid the curriculum that we might get a C- in—even if those are the classes we need most to grow into the person we want to become. Exclusively receiving straight As often means that we’re not stretching enough from our current state or abilities, because stretching risks our GPA.
The truth is, growth comes from challenge. And challenge is predicated on a lack of competence: not knowing exactly what to do or how to do it. Leaning into this feeling, seeking it out, and getting excited by the challenges—this is how we grow into our potential. Embracing challenge, not being scared to ask questions, and being self-compassionate throughout the process—this is how we live more rewarding lives.
Optimizing for straight As—or, in the Instagram era, the perception of straight As—is how we set ourselves up for lives of fear and inaction.
Have a great week,
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