I figured something out. This came to me while I standing in front of the mirror in my bathroom. I’m not going to rehash particulars, because my mid-life crisis is well documented in way too many blogs. Short version, I was incredibly unsatisfied with my job, my visions of the future, my marriage, my guitar playing, my constant sickness (or depression depending on your point of view), my weight. So, I went on a lengthy, unplanned tear down of everything external. Amicably (as much as possible) divorced, quit my job, started practicing guitar and recently started working out 5 days a week… and that’s when it hit me. For the most part, I was satisfied with my suffering.
How messed up is that? I was satisfied being unhappy. Profoundly unhappy. And worse, it was both external and internal. Yes, my circumstances were not congruent with what I wanted out of life. But in my head, my “voice” wasn’t satisfied with who I was. I was a “good” guy, I was a “good employee” (well, for the most part), I was “good” husband to most eyes, good dad, good… you get the point. But here is the truth. I was “good enough.”
Give credit to God, my parents, my inner-drive, the protestant work ethic, whatever, I was not built for good enough. You can’t support my attitude (ego) with “good enough.” Good enough kills me. Being good enough eats me alive because in my own mind, “I’ll never be good enough.” And that’s the true conflict. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t “suffer” from low self-esteem. I am “blessed” with a drive to be better, an important distinction. I am built to never be satisfied. Improvement is like a drug for me. Personal, interpersonal, professional, spiritual, intellectual improvement is my heroin.
I don’t want to have a “good call” to a “good church.” I want to have a “damn good call” to a “fantastic church.” I don’t want to be a “good dad” I want to be the best dad I can for my great son. I don’t want to be a “good husband.” I want to be the kind of husband to a wife that not only gets me but actually likes me (and the “real” me, not my representative or who I might pretend to be). I want to be smarter, so I’ve got to read good books. I want to play music, dance, sing… live life. I’ve got too many people around me that need “life energy” or “light” to drain them. I want to be the kind of guy that people around me are filled up with substance and light. Charisma? No, Charismatic. Excitable. Eccentric. I want to be able to sit around a table with introverts and discuss books (when they venture out of their houses) and get into a groove with a drummer while I play bass, or play guitar and sing.
I’ve been through darkness, in my own way, and they only way I’ve come through it at all is copious amounts of light and ridiculous amounts of laughter. I will always be surrounded by darkness, I’m not going to light a candle. I’m not going to burn the candle at both ends. I’m going to shine like the sun – a star. I wasn’t built for “good enough.” If there is something that I have to “own” that’s it. I wasn’t made for mediocrity.
And neither were you.
If you’re going to sing – sing out loud.
If you’re going to play – then have fun.
If you’re going to dance – then let it fly.
If you’re going to study – then learn and share, don’t keep it to yourself.
If you’re going to speak – then share, do not judge.
If you’re going to keep accounting tables – then be immaculate.
What I’m trying to say is don’t be “good enough.” Good is the enemy of great (read that on a poster somewhere), and I want to be great (in my own way). So, you too can be exemplary. Be better than you were yesterday (the only you can really compete with), start with the attitude that you’re already good (thus addressing the self-esteem issue) – but you can be better (addressing the satisfaction issue) – and then put in the work (which ends up solving both!).
And that’s why this came to me in the mirror. One of the last (hopefully) competitions in my head is my weight. Truthfully, my fitness level, part of which my weight is a problem. I don’t like the way I look before. Now, I know I’ll never look like Keanu Reeves (for starters his hair is the wrong color) but I’m comfortable enough to say I think that guy is attractive (and the lifestyle, musician, bass player, etc. adds layers of cool. Or Brad Pitt (his eyes are blue). But I can look better. I’d just stepped off the scale and lost a “few” pounds this week. I was starting to feel down. Then I measured my mid-section and learned that my belly was smaller than it was 13 days ago (DDPYoga baby!) and I started to get all excited. Then it hit me, why? Why did one number make me sad and the other make me happy? Because one wasn’t as much as I wanted. The other was more than expected. I wasn’t satisfied with one, but was with the other. But here is what I did.
I went to the kitchen and grabbed a gallon bottle of milk and a half-gallon of orange juice. I put those in a backpack, put that backpack on backwards (on ma belly! so jelly!) for a bit. I sat down on the couch and watched TV, then went to the kitchen and ate my breakfast with that stuff on. I started collecting laundry – grooving to some music. I’m wearing it at my computer right now. It’s cumbersome, it’s in my way and it keeps slipping off my shoulders (to be grabbed by my tiny-tiny arms). It is absolutely ridiculous and makes me laugh.
But here is the point – that’s how much weight I’ve lost. All of a sudden, I’m not “satisfied,” I’m in the same zip code as giddy. It’s not “good enough,” Because my own goal is a lot more. So that means same level of focus with MORE work.
And that’s what I’ve figured out. I wasn’t built to be satisfied with good enough.
I was built good already, now it’s time to work to make things better.