Judge Yourself in YOUR Arena

Image Credit: Attentie Attentie on Unsplash


Judge yourself only in your arena.

At a certain point in your life, you have a pretty good idea of what you are and aren't good at.

Fine, yes, you can get better at the things you're not good at. And I would even say that, when life presents you with those opportunities, you should lean into them and improve your dubious skills.

But spending considerable time and energy improving on something that just isn't in your wheelhouse?


Seriously - why?

If the skill you're being asked to acquire isn't one that's crucial to accomplishing your life (i.e. something you need in order to do your current job), then don't bother.

Here's a quote that's often attributed to Albert Einstein which nicely explains this concept.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Fish don't climb trees and it would be really dumb to judge a fish by the fact that he really, really sucks at it. A fish doesn't even have arms, how is he expected to even begin contemplating the accomplishment of this task? Duh right? I'm pointing out the obvious.

Right, so what I'm saying here is - where in YOUR life are you a fish who's trying to climb a tree? Where in your life are you out of your arena?

Identify that and then stop judging yourself for coming up short.

Example: When I was 5-years old, I wanted more than anything to be a ballerina. My parents enrolled me in ballet, and I was so excited because my dreams to be on stage were about to come true.

For our final recital, I wished with all my heart to be cast in one of the flower roles because they got to wear pink tutus, and as a 5-year-old girl, PINK was everything.

However as it turns out, I have ZERO coordination, so I was cast in one of the tree roles and had to wear a green tutu. A TRAVESTY. I quit ballet immediately after.

Image Credit: Author

I have repeatedly tried taking different dance classes throughout my life; modern dance, belly dance, pole dance (!), ballroom, salsa, you name it, I tried it.

I've finally - finally - conceded that fact that I just can't dance when there's a requirement to remember specific steps. 

I can get down and boogie on any dance floor, as long as I don't have to think about the steps. But the moment that my brain gets involved and I need to think about what I'm doing, I start to analyze and become paralyzed.

Dance is not my arena. On a good day, walking is about the extent of the coordination I can manage (although the amount of times I accidentally slam into walls makes even that a dubious skill) so I'm not going to judge myself in that arena.

And the truth is, whether or not I ever become a better dancer just doesn't matter. I'm not trying to become a Broadway star, so who cares?

The thing is, whenever I was in a dance class, and everyone but me seemed to get the steps so quickly, I always got frustrated. I didn't realize that I was a fish trying to climb a tree; that the dancing stage wasn't MY stage.

Sometimes, we can get so focused on the fact that we're in an arena surrounded by people who are really good at the thing we're not good at, that we start thinking that this is something we MUST get better at, without actually asking ourselves if WE care about the skill. 

"Is this skill something that I truly care about getting better at?"

You know what is my stage though? Where I get to be a fish in water? (a.k.a. - my natural habitat - my ARENA.)

The speaking stage.

I'm an AWESOME public speaker. Put me in front of an audience and put a mic in my hand and I'm on fire.

Image Credit: Author

I've achieved my Gold-level Advanced Speaker certification with Toastmasters International because I'm really good.

I'll bet if any of the people that I attended dance classes with had their dance shoes taken away and a mic shoved into their hands instead, they would falter.

Because that's not their arena. But it is MINE.

What I'm trying to say is: don’t feel bad for not being good at things that aren’t in your wheelhouse; judge yourself only in your arena.

Leave the trees to the monkeys, and go be your awesome fish-self.

Image Credit: Dr. Seuss Fandom


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