Self-Improvement is a Bitch

The curse of self-improvement is that there's always room for growth. The blessing of self-improvement is that you can change how you feel about the curse.

There will always be more you can do.

There will always be someone better, faster and stronger than you.

There will always be moments where you're disappointed in yourself.

Human potential is scary, and most people aren't scared of improving themselves because of self-doubt, they're scared because of how powerful they could become. As we improve ourselves and find better opportunities, the stakes get higher. As the stakes get higher, it's easier to feel as if there's more to lose.

But that's not true.

The senior employee scared to become a manager may lose his job if he turns out to be a bad manager, but in doing so, his baseline has changed forever. Now he has access to being a manager. He can spend his time on improving his ability to manage and find other managerial jobs. But the additional power and responsibility are cary to him. He worries that he's not ready, that others are better-suited, that he's an imposters.

But there is never a perfect time to take quantum leaps in self-improvement. We need to climb the ladder, and if the ladder falls, we need to remember that we already know what it takes to pick it back up and to climb back up.

Framing is important with self-improvement. Positive and negative thoughts are like stones, and our mindset is like a set of scales. Every time you have a negative thought, you deposit it on to the scales. Pretty soon, it doesn't matter who you are, but your work feels small and insignificant.

Imagine you had $100m in your bank account and a private jet. Do you feel great, or do you feel awful? Sure, there's more you can do, and there's more you can get, that doesn't change. But how you frame your situation changes how you feel about it.

There is always someone better, faster and stronger with a larger jet than you. Wanting to put in the work to be that person is positive. Saying 'I wish I could have those things' is negative. In one sentence, you're the hero, in the other, you're the victim.

One is a problem worth having, the other is a just problem.

A Lesson for Future Champions

I like this line so I'll say it again.

The curse of self-improvement is that there's always room for growth. The blessing of self-improvement is that you can change how you feel about the curse.

If you're lucky enough to have the drive and ambition to improve yourself as a person, then pay thanks to that every single day. Yes, it does mean that life will never be easy. Yes, it does mean that your journey will never end. Yes, it does mean that you'll always be working pushing yourself. But these are problems worth having. They're problems you're able to use to take control, support yourself and look after the ones you love.

What matters is how you frame these problems. It's incredibly easy to transform self-improvement into a curse, especially given the toll it takes on you. But focus on depositing more on the positive side of the scales than the negative side of the scales.

Every once in a while, go and spend an hour with someone ignorant to self-improvement. You'll see how powerless they are. You'll see how they drift along in life. You'll see how they play the victim. You'll quickly realise that this isn't a life you'd want, and you'll be grateful that you're the hero of your own story.