Did I challenge myself? Celebrating effort over success

I watched a line of students finish a perfect series of parry drills in class one night.  On one hand I might congratulate myself on having done so well with my students yet the real question to ask is “Are my students challenging themselves enough?”
Perfection is the enemy of a healthy training mindset. Not simply the pursuit of it but more dangerously the achievement of it. There’s no ‘up’ from perfection, only the stagnating and psychologically draining task of trying to maintain it.
So ask not if you were successful; instead ask “Did I challenge myself?” To find challenge and unabashedly meet it, is truly a thing worth celebrating.

A Ridiculous Challenge May be Easier

Sometimes a lot of failure can be easier to deal with than a little. Failing at something that you feel you ‘should’ be able to do can have some sting to it. Failing at something that is downright ‘impossible’ to do is expected and can thus seem less risky from a psychological or social perspective.
In our personal internal work we should definitely be releasing our limiting expectations of what we ‘should’ and ‘should not’ be able to do. However sometimes it can be useful to have little mental tricks to push the envelope and make it easier to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. If you’re having a hard time with challenging yourself because of social or internal pressure it may be worth taking a large leap instead of a small one. Really dare yourself to perform something in a way that is well beyond what you feel are your capabilities now. No one, not even you, will expect you to succeed right away, so you have a built in tolerance for failure you can play with.
At the very least when you return to a more reasonably sized challenge, you may find your perspective has shifted and your abilities exceed your original assumptions.
Enjoy your challenges!

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