What stops you from owning your 'success'?

The other night I was talking to one of our runners who has achieved some amazing growth in the last six months of her life. She started with us in our 5km beginner programme, Get up to Five and in the first week of the training programme our runners do 7 sets of walking for 3.5 minutes followed by 30 seconds of very light jogging. For someone who has been unsuccessful with exercise in the past, this particular runner had gone into these sessions feeling very insecure. While she was committed to trying she lived in a world full of doubt, a world which spent a lot of time telling her that it would be challenging, hard and difficult to conquer. This must have made the journey a hard experience for her to persevere at, but she kept turning up and stuck at it and as she progressed, the doubt dissipated the more she believed she could do it. 

When I was talking to her, she had just run 10k for the first time in her life. Here was a lady who was scared of running 30 seconds just a few months ago and now she had run a distance that she would have never thought possible. A very impressive achievement for many reasons, both physically and mentally. 

We had the discussion about why she had been successful and I questioned what she had struggled with in achieving her goal of running 10km. She told me how she would always compare herself to the faster runners around her and this made her feel disappointed in herself. This comparison created an experience for her where she felt she wasn’t good enough when she was running. Here was a lady who had grown so much in such a short period of time feeling disappointed in herself because she spent her time looking at people ahead of her and used them to reinforce why she wasn’t good enough. 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt as a fitness professional is that comparison can be a very dangerous and limiting thing for many people. This comparison can be against others or against ourselves throughout different periods in our lives. For many, comparison can end up pushing them away from the actions that are good for them. The impressive thing about the lady I was talking to was that she hadn’t let this happen, she had felt disappointed when comparing herself to others but she still turned up and kept doing the work to achieve her goal. 

The one unfortunate aspect of how comparison did influence her experience was that she wasn’t letting herself ‘own her good’, own her achievements. I’m sure she was proud of running 10km and there were physical and mental rewards for achieving this but it was slightly diminished with a ‘yeah but others did better’ perspective. This perspective took away what she should have allowed herself to 100% own - that she had done amazingly well.  

If you are sitting and reading this and you identifying with it, a question I have for you is: What are the areas where you don’t you allow yourself to ‘own your good’ and what is the cost of this happening? Are you disappointed in yourself even when the facts show that you should be proud of what you have done? Where does this disappointment lead you to? 

Growth is hard for many reasons, it takes energy, sacrifice, commitment and self reflection to name a few. But at the same time growth is one of the most rewarding things in our lives, it opens up  possibility, opportunity, esteem and experience. While we can continue to reflect and look for where we can grow we need to fully embrace these rewards and take time to acknowledge them. We need to allow ourselves to 100% own them and enjoy them, this will encourage us to continue to seek growth in our lives. 

After sharing my thoughts on how comparison was not allowing this lady to own what she had done there was an obvious shift in her body language which showed that she could see how she was working against herself. When I asked her what her next challenge was -  she said that she wants to work on stopping the comparisons. To me that seems like a good area to develop in her life, one where she can 100% own the rewards she deserves. 

This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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Bevan Eyles