144: Stop Comparing, Measure Everything to Improve Your Standard and End Your Struggles

Comparing leads to judgement if we are unaware. It’s easy to let that happen. Once judgement is allowed into our thoughts, we process our results in a different light. We feel sad, demoralised, hurt or feel not as clever, maybe even stupid.

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Such a sunny day in Singapore, I’m saying that because I just came back from London and I was practically suffering from brain freeze!

You can tell from my voice that I caught a flu bug in London.

And one thing that I failed to tell you is, I’ve always been recording and publishing one episode at a time on the same day when it’s supposed to be live.

That’s a big problem because once something happens to me, there’s nothing I can do to provide you guys with something to listen to on that day.

Stop Comparing, Measure Everything to Improve Your Standard and End Your Struggles

Don’t Compare with Others, You are Unique

I was able to produce an episode a day from August till December 2015, then I went on to give you more motivational bits everyday for those who needed soundbites to keep themselves motivated during trainings.

Then, I needed more time on my hands to prepare a bigger and better show for you guys, so I promised you an everyday show to come.

I can imagine that you guys were trying to refresh your podcast app to see if more episodes will appear but there was nothing after 8th February.

I’m really sorry that I was all a mess when I left for London, not sure if it’s the weather or I was just not well-rested, I fell sick and had the worst flu ever in my entire life.

The trip was great, the food was good, place was amazing, I had the greatest time with my family, mum and sisters and all, but I couldn’t breathe properly through my nose and couldn’t swallow my saliva without feeling the pain in my throat, like a pin poking through my neck. That just spoiled my fun while I was there. Even my two years old son was stronger than me. That sucks.

Without all that, I actually planned to do my recordings in London and wanted to surprise you guys with something from there, but my situation was just not good enough to give you something of value at that time.

I can imagine you turning up your podcast app, getting ready for an episode everyday but that was not to be for the whole of last week. I’m truly sorry about it.

Some of you might have been anticipating and eagerly waiting for more episodes to appear, so once again, this is my bad.

So, as I whizzed by my trip in London really putting in a lot of thought into this podcast. Sports meant so much to me for so many years, and you guys mean the world to me because we have been in the same boat, be it in a team or individual sport, I feel like we are so close loving the same thing even if we don’t know each other.

If you have put in everything in your sport because you love doing it, not for the fame, not for the money, not for the recognition, I’m with you because I can relate to how you feel.

That is why I believed in giving you the best of what I can everyday.

But, having missed last week’s episodes, I came to a realisation, an epiphany that in order to promise you something and provide you better quality episodes and always turning up to be there for you, I can only do one thing, that is, instead of one episode a day, I’ve decided to give you one episode a week to give you better quality work to help you in your sport and life.

I wouldn’t want to suffer from burnout, neither do I wish to have you suffer from poor quality content from me.

So instead of expecting to hear me everyday, you will get to download one episode every week on Wednesdays. Expect to see one new episode every Wednesday morning from now onwards.

Everything will still be the same, as in you will still get to hear mindful related ways to improve your sports performance with supporting case studies. The difference would be on the frequency, which you will get only on Wednesdays. I will probably pull the episodes longer so that you can spend say 1 hour or so devouring over the episode. Besides that, it’s all going to be going on as usual.

Back to the show, now that we’ve learned that we need to focus on the present moment and be process focus rather than on the wins, today we will learn the next step to improve our level of play, that is to measure our progress.

For the benefit of those who are new to the show, it’s great to have you here. All the episodes are team sports centric because I came from a team sports background. So you will tend to hear me say the word “player” quite often. But I do mix in a bit of individual sports, also because I was in competitive badminton for a seven years. To me the mindset for all sports starts on the same ground, even in life. So that makes not difference.

Back to today’s show, what I want to say is, we simply just have to measure.

We need to execute and do the math of everything we do as much as possible. From the metrics and records of our performance right to the core of how we feel, our emotions and how we get over our mental struggles after we are done with it.

That’s the only way we are able to find the best ways to correct our process and techniques and eventually the final result.

Maybe you’ve known this for a long time, well, me too, but I never got down to the detail as much as I thought it should be because I never knew till what end I needed to do so.

Also, I never knew how to communicate within myself to make amends to make my execution right.

The most difficult part of me that I had to get over was I always tend to judge myself, my standards, my results and compare myself to others who are way better than I am.

Worst of all, I tend to judge others for judging me. Thing is they may not even be judging me and I tend to had that perception.

You may think, wouldn’t it be good to compare so that we can have a benchmark to work towards to?

We don’t want to compare, yet we need to measure and keep score. Some of us here may feel that it’s confusing or paradoxical.

In fact, it need not be paradoxical.

My value still stands to always not compare and to stay with always pushing oneself based on one’s strengths and potential.

Yes, it’s good to compare as long as we are so objective that no sense of judgement, envy or vanity stand in our way.

But that’s where the noise comes in. Comparing leads to judgement if we are unaware. It’s easy to let that happen. Once judgement is allowed into our thoughts, we process our results in a different light. We feel sad, demoralised, hurt or feel not as clever, maybe even stupid.

This is when we jump to the other end of the spectrum of us being a “bad” player.

And this doesn’t help us if we just compare and try to be better than the other. It leads us to just try to be better without focusing on the process. We start to only focus on the win, to win that other player.

Even if we eventually won, do we know if that player’s standard drop, or did we improve? We don’t know. If we compare, all we ever want is to be better, and there are many ways to be better, but at the end of it all, do we know how to better ourselves? Do we know how to replicated the process to improve our own time trials, goals or reps?

It’s only when we don’t start to compare that we will start to create that process of our own to improve, rather than just to win that other player.

Also, to what basis do we compare?

Every human is unique enough, we are not clones with different talent. We are entirely different to begin with.

Like for my case, (by the way I always refer back to my case, not to brag, but because since I’ve experienced it myself, why not share that with you.)

Anyway, so for my case, I’m born with an entirely different physique from another teammate who may be way bigger in size than I am.

When it comes to skills like using bodyweight to tackle another player, how should I compare with that teammate?

Do we compare things like, she can push better than me, that means she is a better player?

How should we view such differences without emotions and judgement?

In my opinion, in such situation there’s no need to compare, because two plants of the same kind can be grown in different conditions.

If anyone wants to compare, everything and everyone has to start from scratch, right down to where one is born, and the qualities that each of us have.

But we all know that’s not possible. Even twins are born at different times and they are both not entirely similar.

Sometimes it’s not because we want to choose to feel inferior over the other party, but because we also get criticisms from people.

What we should be doing instead is to start with our own self based on what we already have, with all the help we can find to do our best first.

So lets’ just say we want to improve our sprint timing.

What’s important here is to do all we can to prepare for that sprint and do all we can to sprint as fast as we can. We calculate everything we know in physics to know what’s the best posture and cycles we must complete in say a minute to get from point A to point B with all our might.

Then we measure that and observe our actions and how we moved to churn out that timing.

Next we set a goal, we set a timing that’s faster than the previous timing and we work towards that by working as much as we can at it and at the same time, this is important, at the same time, we correct what we have done previously to improve our execution, our posture, or even our training plans.

We ask ourselves what can we change to make this timing a second faster to reach our goal.

We may not reach it on the first try, we can measure again, figure out what’s wrong with our approach, tweak it and have a go at it again.

So we will always have a problem to solve, we solve all of them, but one problem at a time.

Back to comparing, in this case, comparing wouldn’t help. Even if the other athlete can reach the timing that we aspire to reach, they did their own way of reaching that timing based on their own physiology, believes and emotions.

For some of us, we may not even get to that athlete’s level in our lifetime. It’s sad but true.

Thinking positive is one thing. We may like to think that what we are capable of is what we make out of it. Yes that’s possible, only as long as we know our true capabilities.

Until we are aware of our true potential capabilities, we will only let pride get in the way and feel inferior and demoralised when someone else proves to be better in a certain area than we are.

It’s like asking Michael Jordan to go play baseball. He did, he took a break from basketball and played baseball for awhile, but he did not succeed as he did like in basketball.

It’s not that he’s bad at baseball, it’s also not that he did not try his best.

But we are all born with talents, they are different for everyone.

We cannot succeed without talent, but we also cannot succeed with talent alone.

If we ever wish to compare with others, or if we just can’t help but compare yet we are trying so hard not to do so, just remember that if we want to do that, we must make all things equal except for that quality we want to compare.

Is it realistically possible to make all things equal? Maybe in a science experiment, but humans I would say it’s not. Never.

I used to hate to measure my progress because it is similar to grading in my school years.

The thing about grading is that schools tend to rank students and that demoralises those who are not happy with their ranking.

Thing is ranking doesn’t mean you are a bad student or lousy in the sport.

Many of us just use ranking as something that speaks of our identity and self-worth. I’m guilty of that too.

But self-discovery helped me out of that. If you want to learn more of how that works, I’ve shared my own thoughts and experience on that in episode 139 and 140. It takes the understanding of winning and success to remove measuring of self-worth in sporting results.

That said, measuring our every move is essential, recording and knowing how you progress in metrics is important to moving forward.

It’s like selling when doing sales

But you get a bad impression out of measuring your progress when you take it the wrong way

That was what happened to how I looked at tracking my speed, my fitness, I’d rather not look and just go about my trainings, my weight trainings, and as long as I do my best at that point in time, I’m satisfied

I was afraid that I would be disappointed if I didn’t do well for that time trial or that test.

It really brings me back to the school days when I thought I could do it but I failed that test, and it says so much about me, or rather I thought it says that much about me.

But in actual fact, it doesn’t mean I can’t perform better.

Once a test is over, it’s over. The thing is how we use this test to focus on the next thing coming up for us.

It’s how we use the metrics to improve our situation.

If we tie our emotions to measurement, there’s a problem, so never place expectations into your measurements.

Sometimes you are down, sometimes up.

I learned that the only way to this is to do projections rather than to tie my emotions to my results.

If you want to improve, you need to measure, you need to know how you are doing in numbers.

It does not mean you are a good athlete or not, but you have to know to make amends, to make corrections. It’s part of observation.

It’s one of the main keys to being a successful athlete.

And that’s the only way to enjoy as well.

Hiding from it doesn’t help to bring joy to the sport.

Most of us just get by not measuring our progress and still do pretty okay.

If I am putting in so much time and effort into this, I wouldn’t want to just do pretty okay.

In case you prefer to absorb this by reading, for today’s show notes, links and more, you can go to starplayeracademy.com/podcast, sign up for my newsletter while you’re there, all you get is my best stuff to your inbox to better yourself everyday.

If you have any burning question to becoming a better player, let me know. It’s not going to happen now, remember this is a long game, but I promise you that I will take you by the hand and walk with you on this journey.

All I want to do is to help you become a better version of yourself in your sport.

If you want to find me, go to Twitter @MarilynWo.

I know, it’s easy to measure how fast we run, row or count our reps, but how about our emotions?

My best actionable step today is to write how you feel for every moment you have a thought or struggle when you are at training. Try this out.

The most life changing experience for me when I was competing was to keep a journal and to be consistent with it.

There’s no need to write for hours, even just 10 minutes a day helps to clear our minds.

It’s science, that if we write down what we think, or worry or feel frustrated and anxious about, we are in fact clearing data space in our brains, hence clearing it to let in more thoughts.

Writing is the basic form of decluttering our mind.

After decluttering, there’s no need for space to hang on to those thoughts anymore. With those thoughts still there, we will tend to stick with them. If they are worrying thought and we don’t declutter them, they stick to us everyday and we worry the same worries everyday.

Some of us are not into meditation and refuse to start it, then go write.

I would say, keep a journal, write daily.

Awesome show today, have a great day everyone, see you next week!

Big thanks to Dexter Britain for composing such wonderful inspiring music:The Time to Run

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