Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.
As we get older, as we get more established in our careers and more comfortable in our routines, we also have this habit of lulling ourselves into a state of complacency. We get set in our ways and we become increasingly unwilling to give up what we have in exchange for the opportunity at something better. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as they say.
The grass is always greener on the other side and it is impossible to achieve the impossible standards shown in magazines and movies. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to the Facebook version of our friends either, because that is a heavily edited and curated depiction of their lives. You don’t know their struggles. We shouldn’t have to choose between taking care of ourselves and going after that hustle.
But legendary middle and long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine didn’t really think that way. He had bigger goals. He had grander ambitions. And that’s why he kept pushing himself to go further, to go faster. That’s why, at the time of his death at the age of 24, he held the American outdoor track record for every distance between 2,000 and 10,000 meters.
To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice your gift.
You don’t want to be the guy with unfulfilled potential, because you’ll always be left wondering what could have been. What could you have achieved?
I just caught the movie Whiplash the other night and in it, the mentor character played by J.K. Simmons says that “there are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job.'” Because this gives the person permission to stop trying, to stop pushing themselves further.
Don’t let fatigue make a coward of you.
Despite holding all of those American track records, Steve Prefontaine went into the 1972 Summer Olympics as a heavy underdog. He ultimately came home empty-handed, narrowly missing out on the bronze in the 5000 meters after being passed by Ian Stewart of Great Britain in the final ten meters of the race. But his legacy lives on through his words and his actions.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself further just because you’re tired. You just might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.