The other day, my daughter started dancing to Fred Schneider’s cover of the Harry Nilsson song “Coconut,” and wanted to show us how she could Floss.
It went something like this:
Mid-way through her dance, she squealed, “I’m getting good at the Floss!”
She’s kind of correct.
I mean, sure, it didn’t look exactly like this,
but she’s got the right attitude about trying to work at something that doesn’t come easy.
Confidence and momentum build from seeing your progress.
She’s not focused on the distance between where she is and where she’d like to be. She’s looking the opposite direction and seeing how far she’s come from where she started.
If you get stuck in the unending Zeno’s Paradox of constantly getting closer to your goal, but never actually reaching it, you wind up with anxiety, frustration, and shame.
You stall out. You feel like a fraud.
It’s something I see in my students, my peers, and myself.
That pull between the optimism of seeing how far you’ve come fighting the pessimism of the long, unclear road ahead.
It’s easy to let that pull you into the mental trap of contrasting and comparing yourself with others.
But when you celebrate your progress, you focus on your personal bests, not on how far you are from achieving a world record. You can measure what you’ve done and add to it.
And you can make the story you tell yourself about how this is moving forward — This is what getting better looks like.