From a Distance

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As I neared my speaking venue, I suddenly regretted not making time to wash my car. The thin film of dust on the vehicle’s black hood looked even worse through my bug-bombed windshield. So much for the inspirational speaker leading by example; who will value the message when the messenger arrives in a filthy car?

The feeling intensified when every vehicle in the parking lot seemed cleaner than mine. I pulled to the lot’s far side, locked up, and headed toward the building’s entrance.

That’s when I noticed it.

All those cars that had looked so clean when I’d pulled into the lot, now revealed their own films of dust and bug-splotched windshields as I moved passed them. My car, in the distance, looked immaculate.

My topic that day was the first blog post I’d ever written: White-Knuckle Living: How to Succeed by Letting Go. But after my experience outside, I added an item: 

  •  Let go of the illusion that others—especially successful people—are superior to you.

Most of us have done it at some point: convinced ourselves that others know more, look better, or are more talented. We’ve felt like naive kids surrounded by competent adults and at any moment, someone will blow the whistle to reveal we have no clue what we’re doing and just trying to figure it out as we go along.

But it’s all an illusion. From a distance, others seem shiny and perfect, like the cars in the parking lot, while our own world is distorted by the film of our flaws, magnified because we are so close to them, so acutely aware.

Next time you feel the urge to succumb to the illusion that you are not good enough, remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh:

“…you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

And most people are too busy struggling with their own flaws to be concerned with yours.

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