The Olympic games bring together the best in the world, and the difference between gold, silver, and bronze medals is often a tenth of a second. And the person who finishes fourth, “just off the podium,” may have been just a tenth of a second behind that.
I’m reminded of some wisdom one of our grad profs shared with us during orientation a few years back (and which I’ve mentioned on this blog before) - as you climb the ladder in life, it gets tougher, not easier. As you advance, you’re competing with fewer, and better, people. Everybody has mad skills.
It’s sad to see that some of the athletes - not to mention the media - are “disappointed” in a silver medal, or a fourth-place finish, or a non-record-breaking time. We lose sight of the fact that these accomplishments are amazing, something to admire. It’s as if anything less than first place doesn’t matter.
Like athletes, many scholars are our own worst critics. We need to remember that everything we write may not be a masterpiece, but it still shows great skill and deep thinking. We need to remember that not every student will develop a religious zeal for our discipline, but that doesn’t mean we’re not good teachers.
We need to remember that we’ve got pretty mad skills too. We won’t win a gold medal every time out - and sometimes we might finish off the podium - but that shouldn’t diminish our amazing accomplishments.