This was something I wrote for class at school. Not sure if it’s helpful to anyone, but… just some ideas for your reference. Some ideas are inspired by Gallwey’s book “The Inner Game of Tennis”. My ideas are still evolving! The following is just a record of how I thought during a certain period of time!
I was in fourth grade and I was really excited. It was parent teacher conferences and I wanted to show my mom all the cool things I had done so far in class. Together, we walked into the classroom and I eagerly pointed out which projects I had made on the walls. “This is some art I made, this is my ‘all about me project’” I looked at her face, anticipating seeing her beautiful smile, but instead, I saw disappointment. When it was finally our turn to talk to the teacher, it was revealed to my mom that I had gotten a couple of B’s and maybe even a C plus in one of my courses. Realizing that my mom was not in the best of moods, I began to get nervous.
When we arrived at home, she opened up to me about how she felt. She told me that my writing was messy, that my grades were bad and that she had expected much more from me. I felt ashamed, disappointed in myself, and scared of the consequences I might have to face.
Then, I noticed her voice get shaky.
Tears rolled down her face.
My mother was crying. I had never seen her cry before.
As immigrants, my parents came to Canada with nothing and had to fight for the means to survive. They wanted me to be successful in everything that I did so I wouldn’t have to face what they had to face.
At an early age, it was established for me that success was the result of obtaining the best results. My parents have clarified to me that that wasn’t the whole story, but for a while, it was.
Whether that’s getting good grades and earning the means to survive or meeting deadlines, finding our passions, finding happiness, meeting beauty standards and much more, it’s clear that there many things to be obtained.
But to live a life that revolves around obtaining results does not necessarily produce the best results and the ones most true to ourselves. To achieve those ends, it’s better to not focus solely on results.
The question of survival -the outcome of life or death- is undoubtedly important.
I am not asserting that we should ignore the importance of such crucial outcomes or overlook the natural desire to stay alive, but rather, that focusing on outcomes might not always be the most effective means of reaching them.
For those of you who are familiar with NBA history, you might have heard of the time Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets scored thirteen points in the last thirty-five seconds of the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs and won his team the game (uhmean). He scored 4 three point shots -one of which turned into a four-point play- and he hit them down one after another whilst being fiercely defended -sometimes by multiple players from the other team (uhmean). Most amazingly, when asked about how he did it after the game, McGrady responded to the interviewer, “I’ve never been a part of anything like this, so you gotta excuse me” (uhmean ). It seems incredible that he wasn’t aware he did anything deliberately or differently to cause himself to achieve that feat; it just kind of happened.
In my musical studies, I’ve noticed a trend. In performances when I try the hardest to play and when I feel the most anxious about results, I tend to play the most poorly, but in my best performances, when I feel most in-tune with the music and when my fingers surprise me with technique I hadn’t encountered during practice, I’ve noticed something similar to what McGrady experienced: some element of not worrying about my ability to reach the results and not trying to control the outcome.
When something is extremely important to us (in these pressing situations -survival), we obsess over it and we try to do everything in our power to obtain it. We hope that through giving our all and spending all that energy, we will more able to reach our goals.
What Tracy McGrady shows us is that perhaps we can do more when we don’t come in the way of ourselves with our own judgments and expectations. Perhaps the key to accessing the best results is letting go and giving ourselves the freedom to do what we can do.
In cases when what we are looking for is more subjective, sometimes, it’s not solely about reaching the outcome, but finding the right one. Part of being in a group -being a part of society- is being subject to group influences, meaning that it’s possible that our goals may be misguided.
Christele Perrot is an example of someone who pursued and obtained what she thought she needed to have to be happy (Perrot). At the age of 31, she had the “picture perfect” life: she had a masters degree in finances at the university Paris Dauphine, she started her professional life working at a recognized investment bank, she was married for life at age 25, and at the same time, she had three children (Perrot). A life, as she put it, “toute tracée” -all drawn out (Perrot). But starting in July 2001, she started noticing symptoms of illness, which she ignored as a first reaction, attributing them to just being a normal part of life as a young professional (Perrot). She started getting chest pains, exhaustion, and everything deeply bothered her (Perrot). After suddenly collapsing one day, she was diagnosed with burnout and depression, and spent three months in bed with antidepressants, anxiolytics, and sleeping pills (Perrot).
What society deems is important, is not necessarily accurate. The outcome of being married, having children, and being quite established in her professional life promised Christele happiness and fulfillment not immobilization in a bed for three months with burnout and depression. She was so caught up in the pursuit of the picture perfect lifestyle that she lost touch with the reality that she was getting very ill, and that her heart was not happy.
Outcomes can be only superficial representations of our desires. If we lose touch with ourselves in the pursuit of results, we will never know what we really need, and what we really want.
We live in an age marked by the desire of perfection -or rather, because humans are imperfect, results that are perfect enough. At work, we are demanded to put in our very best -to meet deadlines, and to keep ourselves systematically and robotically busy to fulfill the requirements of our jobs. When we complete a day of work and feel a little bit hungry, we go to grocery stores, and pick out some fruit shaped perfectly enough to meet our expectations, a bag of chips whose flavour was the perfect enough result of food engineering, a bottle of pop half-off that would be perfect enough to quench our thirst. We go home and we sit in the perfect-enough comfort of our couch with our snacks and look at our phones in hopes of instant satisfaction. A life focussed on results -working enough, eating enough, relaxing enough- is one that can either be perfect enough or not: successful or not.
Unless we change our perceptions, we will never be able to free the extent of our capabilities, and discover what is truly meaningful to us.
When we focus too absolutely on outcomes, we lose sight of the natural ability and imperfect beauty that is part of being who we are: human.
Perrot, Christèle. “Du burn-out à la performance – Est-ce la limite? | Christèle Perrot |TEDxAlsace.” YouTube, TEDx Talks, 17 Feb. 2017,www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5fC4EzPjD0.
uhmean. “Tracy McGrady: 13 Points in 33 Seconds.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 Nov. 2005,www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceLlz7dOOvY.