Imagine you have a friend who just returned from a hunting trip. It was his very first duck hunt. He was excited when he left for the trip, knowing how much fun others had bagging ducks on this big lake. He bought all the great gear, and was ready for the time of his life. As he walks through the door returning home, you smile and ask, “Well, how was the hunt?”
He doesn’t smile back. Something has obviously gone wrong. “The day was terrible,” he muses, proceeding to slump in a chair and pout. Assuming he didn’t get any ducks at all, you ask if he missed every shot he took. “Oh no, I actually got 12 ducks. See, here they are,” he says, immediately producing a bag of 12 beautiful ducks.
Now, you are just plain confused. When you bring up his apparent success with these 12, he looks up and responds, “Well, sure, I got 12 ducks. But … hundreds of them got away!”
Have you ever been around people that seem to focus on the negative side of things? I remember watching a youtube video once of someone saving a little girl from an extreme fire. What seems to be a dangerous feat turned out to be a heroic moment as the little girl was saved by the firefighter despite the extreme toxic smoke surrounding them. However, I noticed several people who gave the video a thumbs down.
The first thought that came to my mind was, I don’t understand. It seemed like no matter what firefighters did, even though they saved the little girl, it wasn’t enough. Perhaps those people were focusing on the wrong thing, actions or thoughts. For a moment, I was mad at those people who gave the video a thumbs down. After all, a life was saved, why would someone not see that?
Then I thought even longer and I could not help to think that those people who tend to focus on the “missed ducks” are oftentimes people who surround us… family members, coaches, friends, teachers, and even ourselves at times.
As a young wrestler, I remember that I often had a mental battle with those who focused on the “missed ducks.” I remember coaches and other teammates spending time worshiping famous wrestlers. They were famous because of their consistency and effectiveness in any giving tournament. Nothing wrong with that, unless you are a young wrestler in a similar weight class, and you know you will eventually end up wrestling those you’re worshiping. You see the problem here?
When someone you respect and admire compares you with those that have accolades describing them as “beast,” “lion,” “demolisher,” etc., you begin to question whether you have what it takes to face someone like that. It works your mind and you are in a battle even before entering the wrestling mat. How do you deal with that?
What has worked for me is guarding my mind from the others’ thoughts or comments that do not add value to my life and remembering that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
If there is no one in the world made like me, that means that I can be glad of the body type, hair, skin color, the way I talk or look, my personality, etc., because I am unique. I am a limited edition and therefore I cannot be compared with someone else without adding or subtracting something out of that uniqueness.
I know our society likes to compare people and even more so athletes for their physical capabilities. However, if we can begin to grasp that we all have a different starting point, I think it would help us understand that we are all running a different race or dancing to a unique beat even though it looks like we are all in the same race.
Further, I would argue that our race is not against our “opponents,” but against becoming all that we were meant to be. That is why, when I am wrestling an opponent, I am not worried about winning or losing. I know someone is going to win and the other has to lose. My job, as I see it, is to focus on implementing all the hundreds of training hours into the very best effort I can give. At the end of the day, whether I win or lose, I just want to go to bed satisfied with the effort I gave that day.
The frustration comes when we focus on the “missed ducks” despite the effort. When you go back to comparing yourself and don’t realize your starting point, you can’t help but put yourself down for whatever reason. Now it is not someone else, it is yourself that is putting you down.
In those moments, I think we need to look ourselves in the mirror and remember the truth, “No doubt about it, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am God’s unique design!”
I will focus on the 12 ducks. I may not be where I want to be, but I am not where I was. I am making steps forward without knowing. And growing through adversity on my own unique path.