You have been told to reach for the stars. It’s good advice. But remember to reach for one at a time.
I am attending a technical conference this week. I always get very “into my head” at these conferences. Sure there is a strong technical component for learning and connecting, so my brain gets into that and starts to build new models for how the universe works.
But the part where I really get into my head, involves people watching and comparison. Oh my goodness, the comparison engine goes into overdrive.
I know more than that person.
I know better than this person.
I wish I knew as much as her.
Wow he really comes across as put together.
Wish I could present like that.
Wish I knew that level of architecture.
The voice in my head is having a feast.
I am constantly ‘dialoging’ with myself that I should know more technical details. I should know more computer languages. I should know how to manage web servers better. I should be a better system administrator. The list of perceived deficiencies goes on and on. At the same time my head voice wants me to know more about architecture and how systems are put together. I should know more about security. I should know more about internet infrastructure deployments. I should be able to design large systems…
The truth is, I can do a lot of these these, but I can’t do all of these things. I know a lot of programming languages, but I don’t know all programming languages. All my brain needs to see is a single example, where I don’t know something, and the judgement starts.
Why did you never learn that?
Why don’t you know more about that?
He’s younger than you, how come he is better at that then you?
The truth is I know a lot. The truth is that I know enough.
The truth is that I am adequate and perfect. I am exactly who I am supposed to be.
The truth is, there are lots of days when I don’t believe the truth.
I often find myself judging my own experiences as inadequate. When in fact my own experiences are perfect. They are exactly what they need to be to make me the man that I am today. Adding a burden of perceived gap between what I know today and what I think I should know, doesn’t make me better. It actually degrades my value.
By seeing myself as inadequate or lacking I am simply feeding the voice of doubt in my head. This voice is in need of a diet, not a good hearty meal. There is no need for me to spend my precious time preparing food for the voices in my head.
This inadequacy leads to reaching. But reaching from a place of inadequacy is like looking for balance from a place of imbalance. If the foundation of your search is all wibbly wobbly, then no matter how strongly you build on top of it, you will always be wibbly wobbly. So the reaching becomes frantic and instead of reaching in one direction, or picking a few discrete goals, you reach in all directions, you pick all goals.
Instead of trying to reach a single star, you find yourself reaching for all stars.
You cannot do everything at once.
You cannot reach in all directions at one time.
You cannot boil the ocean, you must heat up one pot of water at a time.
Remember one of the most important skills for reaching the stars is focus, not having long arms.
You are adequate and perfect.
I am too.