Comparing up vs comparing down

Every time I return to my blog it reminds me to return to Derek Siver’s blog. What new insightful lessons has Derek shared? This time I read his latest post “Think like a bronze medalist not silver“.

It put the saying having “an attitude of gratitude” into perspective for me. Sometimes my understanding for fundamental life principles gets cloudy when I’m so caught up in things I have to do, stress and all that. It’s good to be reminded again and reinforce those lessons.

The analogy of the bronze medalist goes something like this. A silver medalist compares upwards, full of envy that he/she was just one step to getting a gold, it was so close. The bronze medalist compares downwards, he/she was so close to not getting a medal – full of gratitude. So think like a bronze medalist. Think about how much worst it could have been.

I immediately thought of those times I was unsuccessful in catching a seal. Especially those that I was trying to recover tags (i.e. valuable data) from. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But I did feel down, and felt like I’m not good enough for this fieldwork. Can’t even catch a seal… I forget about all the other times I did successfully catch a seal. Those didn’t matter, it was all luck, and I can’t keep counting on luck. I expected myself to never miss another seal, I mean how hard could it be? But I have to acknowledge it is hard, even if past PhD students made it seem easy. I should think, hey, I didn’t catch this seal, but it could have been worst. I could have hurt myself, and then it would make catching future seals harder. Or at least I’ve caught previous seals, I could have caught none. Or at least the seal got to escape and have a good laugh at me and feel good about itself (haha maybe). Just keep thinking like a bronze medalist 🙂

(I got 3rd out of 3 competitors that day, could have not competed at all I guess!)

bronze

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