by Brad Stulberg
What if striving to be great is what’s holding you back?
“Good is the enemy of great” is one of the most popular self-improvement expressions there is. It’s the first sentence of an international bestselling business book, the title of another self-help book, and a mantra that NFL superstar J.J. Watt has used in press conferences. It sounds appealing and rolls off the tongue nicely, but there’s a good chance it’s downright wrong.
We’re told that striving to be great and never being satisfied are necessary to meet the ever increasing pressures and pace of today’s world. It’s the only route to success. But what is it all for? What does success even mean? Rates of clinical anxiety and depression are higher than ever. Some experts believe that loneliness and social isolation have reached epidemic proportions. Two-thirds of all employees report feeling burned out at work. Surely this isn’t the kind of success that everyone is after.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers that true success means feeling content with the unfolding of your life. It is “finding happiness in your work and life, in the here and the now.”
The kind of success that Thich Nhat Hanh champions isn’t about striving to be great all the time. It’s about being at least OK with where you are, about accepting good enough. What’s interesting is that not always trying so damn hard to be great isn’t just the path to being happier; it’s also the path to getting better.
This mindset improves confidence and releases pressure because
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