It hurts when we feel like we’ve missed the mark. And it’s easy to use every screwup as proof of our fundamental deficiencies as marketers, business owners, or people.
Frankly, entrepreneurs and creative types tend to bully themselves. Not because they don’t know what to do, but because they feel like they know exactly what they should be doing, but aren’t. Or can’t.
And worse, it seems like everyone else is doing better.
Ira Glass once talked about the gap between taste and ability. Artists and entertainers can spend years trying to get their own talents to match their tastes.
And it can be a painful journey, not living up to your own standards. Knowing where you want to be and being all too aware that you’re not there yet.
I think business owners and marketers struggle with the same thing. We can look at businesses that seem more successful than ours, or marketing campaigns that seem more brilliant than we could ever be, and wonder what’s wrong with us.
But the fact is, you can’t bully yourself better. All that will do is demotivate you, slow you down, and reinforce a negative feedback loop.
Dan Sullivan talks about The Gap and The Gain. The Gap is the distance between where we are and where we want to be. It can seem endless and ever-growing. It’s depressing and demoralizing.
Instead, we need to focus on The Gain. The journey from where we came from to where we are today. Everything we’ve done and been through to get here. The progress we’ve made.
That’s what matters.
Because nobody’s perfect—everybody can always improve. So that means there will never be a moment when you’re done, finished, completely satisfied. There is no promised land—we’re always in the wilderness.
So you can’t wait until you’re perfect to be proud of yourself. You need to start now. Especially if you want to make more progress.
Like Aurelius said, don’t “assume it’s impossible because you find it hard. But recognize that if it’s humanly possible, you can do it too.”
The path forward is paved with confidence in your own decisions, and detachment from things outside your control. It’s built on knowing what you truly want, and what you’re willing to do to get it. And it’s focused on getting just a little bit better every day, not beating yourself up for still being human.
According to The Algebra of Happiness,“the number one piece of advice seniors would give to their younger selves is that they wish they’d been less hard on themselves.”
So take a few minutes to think about everything you’ve done to get here. Write down what you did, how you did it, and why it happened. And think about everything that used to stand in your way that’s now in the past.
Pay attention to the strides and the gains you’ve made.
Stop bullying yourself—and start giving yourself the support and respect you deserve.