Mike Dariano


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Being better in relative terms, not absolute ones

Three months ago we enrolled our oldest daughter in gymnastics. She knew nothing. Couldn't do a handstand, cartwheel, walk on the balance beam. Nothing. But this was fine, we were enrolling her so she could learn to do all these things.

Three months have now gone by and her accomplishments have been incredible. She can do handstands, cartwheels and walk on the balance beam in a few different ways. She went from doing nothing to doing so many things. I was thinking about how amazing this was that she went from not knowing much of anything to really being able to do something. And it shamed me.

I felt guilty that I didn't have a project for her handstand or changed belief for her cartwheel. She doesn't know anything - four year olds don't - yet she goes to gymnastics class and gets better. Driving her home I was thinking that I should do that, I should just get better and here's the best part, it doesn't matter how good I get. See, at gymnastics she's still not very good but she's so much better than she was. That's my new charge, become better than I was.

When I was reading a lot of psychology books a common theme is that people believe they are better than average. If you surveyed 100 random people, more than 50 would think they were better than average drivers even though someone has to be average and some below. It's the same for life, I think I've lived a better than average life. I'm in better than average shape with better than average intelligence with a better than average wife and kids and two dogs that are as dumb as rocks. Average. But as my daughter indirectly showed me, it doesn't matter in absolute terms - even if my absolute terms are full of crap - it matters in relative terms. Instead of better than average I should strive for better than yesterday.

So let it begin. For the next year, until 2014 I'll begin documenting my attempt at being better than I was yesterday. Some days I will fail but most days I will not.

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