There’s a quote by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya I really like:
“This world is like a shadow. If you try to catch it, you will never be able to. Turn your back on it, and it has no choice but to follow you.”
I like thinking about that quote when I want to achieve something. It convinces me that in a harmonious and balanced state of mind, the solution comes more easily. But it’s hard to get to that balanced state of mind when we’re chasing so many goals at the same time. Most people are perfectionists to the bone. That’s exactly what’s preventing them from winning the most important battles.
Real perfectionism can be destructive. I know that from personal experience. I always tried to be the best student. The most attractive person in the room. The smartest one, too. The most charming one in conversations. The one with the best job. The one with the best everything. And guess what: it was impossible to succeed in everything. Real life makes you fail, and that’s okay. If we don’t fail, we won’t really realize what winning means.
Not Knowing How to Be an Underdog: It’s a Real Struggle
Perfectionism causes stress. Research showed that perfectionists were hesitant to ask other people for help. They were afraid to reveal their true, imperfect self. I felt that on my own skin.
I grew up in a culture obsessed with winning. Better said: I was brought up by parents who were obsessed with winning. Getting a good grade was not enough. I had to get the best results in the class. Even that was not enough. I had to get the best results on all tests and all papers.
This competitive spirit grew so strong that it brought me to a sense of alienation. I had no friendships. Even relationships were all about competing. When I got this great job as a writer for AussieWritings.com, I wanted to get all important projects. I was worried when they were delegating a great project to someone else. My focus on winning made me feel that I was never achieving enough.
But I changed that attitude. To my own huge surprise, I learned how to be an underdog. I realized that it’s necessary to be an underdog in some situations if you want to win in others. I learned one of the most valuable lessons ever: it’s impossible to be the best one in everything.
When and How to Be an Underdog
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that you should give up on winning once and for all. Competition is sometimes necessary, since it makes you better.
The true wisdom is realizing when it’s okay to step back, so you can have more energy for the really important battles. Being an underdog is good for us, but we have to do it the right way.
Learn How to Be Humble, So You’ll Learn Sympathy
Let me tell you something: arrogance is an ugly thing. I’ve had many friendships fail because of it. I’ve lost countless opportunities to make friendships. And that’s not okay.
Perfectionists have a hard time understanding that there’s beauty in humility. That’s the instrument through which people bond with each other. When we place humility ahead of our aim to win in every situation, we open ourselves to connections. We allow ourselves to be emotional and understand other people. We learn sympathy.
It’s Okay to Fail; That’s How You Learn to Stand Up
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
People don’t like failure. Why should we? Success feels good. Failure makes us miserable. Does this mean we have no lesson to learn when we fail? Oh, the lesson is not only good, but it’s also necessary.
Repeat this after me: It’s okay. Everyone fails. I’ve failed before and I stood up. I will stand up again. This is a time of growth for me.
Growth has to occur from somewhere. We have to realize we’re not that good at something, so we’ll improve that aspect of our personality. We’ll become stronger, more committed, and more effective in the aim to fill that gap. That’s how we become better: by standing up.
Being an Underdog is Necessary for Developing Inner Strength
I’d be lying if I told you that failure hasn’t made me feel weak. It’s one of the most bitter experiences for me, and I still haven’t mastered the skill of dealing with it.
When I used to get a B at college, I felt like I failed. Not getting the best grade was a disaster after all that studying and sleep deprivation. Instead of being happy for the good enough grade, I felt like I failed hard. That’s just not normal.
Do you know what normal is? Facing reality. Okay. I didn’t get the best result. So what? I can study more for the next exam, not because I want to be better than someone else, but because I want to grow from this current point I’m in. That would be the normal thing to say in such situation.
Look, the Universe is not going to let you win every single time. You’ll get plenty of tests and you’ll fail some of them. Failure is necessary because it encourages you to transform that insecure person into someone more confident and humble at the same time.
What about Conquering Other Goals?
I didn’t say you should give up winning. I still want the most challenging projects at work. I still want to succeed at completing them. However, I learned to set my limits. I know how much work I can do within a limited period of time. Now that I’m getting fewer project, I have more space to commit to them. And I’m achieving way better results.
So that’s it. I learned how to be an underdog in some situations, so I can excel in others.
When we allow ourselves some space for losing, opportunities will open up in surprising ways. We get a relief from the burden of perfectionism and we’re able to focus on what really matters. Not every single achievement matters that much. That mere realization feels like winning to me. Let’s give ourselves a break, shall we?