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CwL Ep116 A lesson from my daughter

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After a disappointing result at Athletics Day, Lisa’s daughter reminded her of a super important lesson that is as relevant in school as it is in adult life.

If you struggle with comparing yourself to others and expecting to keep high standards in all areas of your life then this is the perfect episode for you. 

Lisa encourages self-acceptance in the simplest way – and it might just change your life. 

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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here

Hey, it’s Lisa Corduff. Welcome to the podcast where you can expect inspiring, raw, energising and transformative conversations with people on the path of personal evolution. I’m here to really live my life and if you are too, these conversations are just for you. I’m really glad you are here. Enjoy.

Isn’t it just the funniest thing when our kids show us exactly the life lesson that took us so long to learn. I’m going to share with you today, a little story about athletics day in primary school for my children and what, in particular, my daughter learned that we can apply to our lives right now. She’s a little rockstar. She has so many amazing qualities. I often think like what? Where did she come from? She’s just, well, I mean, of course I’m her mum and I’m going to say she’s a pretty spectacular kid. And she likes doing well at things. She’s a bit of a natural achiever. I wouldn’t say hugely competitive, but she likes to be doing well. She doesn’t want to be behind. She likes doing a good job, feeling good at things as we all do, but that drives some people more than others.

Anyway, athletics day. Her brother, hugely athletic, very into sport. This is his thing. House captain in grade six, been waiting all year for this. He goes for it and he comes home with five ribbons and their house won the whole day so he’s all the glory. Definitely didn’t get what he wanted. Oh, but the gig, it’s a pretty spectacular effort, right? And she got no ribbons and it really upset her. And as her mum, I can see that this is not her strength. Athletics is not her strength. It’s just not natural to her like it is for other people. And, of course, we can train and we can get good at so many different things but I’m like, “Babe”, in my mind, I’m like, why are you being so hard on yourself? Why are you expecting a level of winning ribbons when it’s showing up, giving it your all.

That’s the best you can do and you’ll come where you’re going to come. And that’s something that I say to my kids all the time. You show up and you give your best. And then things… Often on the day there’s people ahead of you, there’s people behind you, sometimes we take out the medals, sometimes we don’t and that’s life. But gee, it’s a hard lesson. But beyond that is this, what I saw in my daughter was just this, well, if I’m good at this and this and this, why aren’t I good at this? I should want to be good at all the things that I try. And I was just thinking about the freedom that comes when we can start to acknowledge, Hey, this isn’t probably my thing. And that starts to happen through life, doesn’t it? We start to get a sense of where our natural strengths lie.

And stick with me here. I do think school creates an expectation of a general level of ability across so many different things and it is what it is. There’s a lot of people who’ve opted out of that more traditional education model for all sorts of reasons, but I can see why sometimes, I think exposing kids to a whole breadth of things and them finding what works for them and narrowing it down by the end is cool. But in the process, it can be a little bit demoralising when we weren’t put on this planet to be good at all the things. We just weren’t. It’s never going to happen. You’re never going to be great at all the things, not even necessarily good at all the things. And so I was thinking about this with her and I was thinking about how there’s something that happens to us is we can acknowledge that “Yeah, sure, I’m never going to be a sprinter. It’s just not in my strength.”

And then we go into adulthood and there’s all these different things that require us to be good at them. A good, competent level of, even if administration and paperwork and stuff like that. How old fashioned am I going to be, is this going to sound in a few years when I talk about paperwork? Just as an aside. Even if it’s not your strength, you’re expected to be good at it otherwise you can’t operate in this world very well. You get fines and stuff if you don’t pay bills and all those sorts of things. We have this general expectation that we should be good at housekeeping, staying on top of clutter. Or being able to prepare nutritious, healthy meals from scratch or whatever it is. There’s this general expectation and even though we can know that they’re not our natural strengths, we’re still as hard on ourselves as my daughter was after her athletics carnival. We’re disappointed in ourselves. We want to be good at all the things. We don’t understand why sometimes we do better than other times. Like I was better when we were practising .

Okay, that’s okay. You’ve also got a cold so how were you going to run your fastest when you could hardly breathe? Can we acknowledge that there’s factors that impact your performance and we can allow them to be okay and we can love ourselves even if we don’t get the result we want. So I want to encourage you, where in your life are you holding a particular standard or expectation for yourself and it causes you angst? You talk down to yourself about it. You are not the Joneses. We can so easily get into comparison. Something that happens to people all the time and we use what someone else is doing as a barometer of how well we are doing. And it’s bullshit. It’s crap. I can see it for my kids. The things that they’re naturally going to find easy in their life and the things that they’re going to have to work away at. And the things that, if we could give ourselves permission to just never do them, would probably be great. I think about it in my own life.

And I was having a conversation recently with some friends who had corporate careers. One of them still has a corporate career and she was being really hard on herself because she didn’t stay committed to one area. She’s in her forties. She’s found herself to be a bit of a generalist. I mean, I think she’s actually specialised in one area, but I also do not understand corporate and what it would’ve meant for her career and where she would be now if she just stayed the course with the particular path that she started on. And she’s comparing herself to other people who did and thinking, Ugh. And then we were talking about things that have happened over that time. The divorce that was really messy and ended up leading to multiple legal battles that just drained her. I mean, it was tough to watch. She was such a warrior throughout it all, but it was a huge energetic drain.

And that is derailing. Then she had another two kids in under a year with her other partner, with her next partner, who she’s still with, has a wonderful life with. She made decisions about trying to start her own thing and going for that for a little while when the kids were little and she chose to be at home with them for a while and kick something else off. And she went back into the workforce and she wasn’t where everybody else was, who didn’t have all that life stuff happen. Didn’t choose to want to be at pickups and drop offs for her kids in primary school. And so what are you comparing yourself against? I was saying? Some dude who’s just had a consistent path through his career and nothing’s really taken him away from that mission. What? Why are you doing that? And also devaluing the choices that you’ve made over that time that have been for the benefit of you. And we get into this all the time. All the time, don’t we?

And it’s amazing watching our kids. It was amazing watching today, this like, Hey, why is she expecting herself to be there and good at this? Really upset that she didn’t come home with any glory ribbons when it’s not the thing that’s for her. And she focuses her areas, her leisure time on dancing and karate and netball, other things. It’s not going to be athletics. Can we let that be okay? Can you let be okay wherever you are at in your life? Can you let it be okay that you’re not good at all the things? It’s not admitting defeat or failure. It’s actually recognising you are a human, not a robot. You’ve come with your own unique imprint of strengths. You’re not here to do all the things like everybody else. And so you get to focus on all the things you don’t feel you’re doing well, or you just get to be okay at them and focus on the stuff that you’re great at. And I don’t think we give ourselves permission as adults. I think, just like school, creates this expectation of a general level of ability, so does adult life.

And the best thing is as adults we can choose to buy out of it. We can bring an awareness to, oh, you know what? I actually just don’t get interior design. I don’t understand how to put rooms together. I don’t really look at fabrics and they make sense to me. I’m not particularly colour-coordinated in this. It’s probably not going to be my thing that I live in a home that looks like a display home. I actually don’t even want that. But if I wanted it, I’d really have to outsource that and get some help. I’m not going to just give myself a really hard time that in my life, it’s not what I’m here to do. I’m not here to spend all my time keeping a home looking pristine. It doesn’t fill me with the feels that I know it gives a lot of other people.

My mum has huge home pride. It gives her something at her soul level to potter her about her house, to make little tweaks, to keep things tidy and clutter-free. That’s her. She loves it. It comes naturally to her. And there’s been so many times over the years I’ve given myself such a hard time that that’s not me. But I’ve created little systems, and structures for myself to make my home feel good for me. Not compared to anyone else. For me. You get to do the same. Do you need to lower a standard somewhere? Accept your amazing self, the strengths you have and the strengths you don’t and let it be okay. I think that’s one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves as we grow. An awareness that, oh, I don’t have to be good at all the things. I’m going to let it be okay. And then, so it is.

Ah, you can thank my amazing daughter for bringing you this little life lesson and analogy. And I hope you took something away from it. If you did, go ahead, and feel free to share this podcast. I’m terrible at promoting it to be honest. I love recording them. They go out into the world. I forget to tell people, especially on social media. So if you snap a screenshot of this and share it, please tag me and let me know what you think. Let me know if this has been helpful for you. It really does mean a lot. Okay. See you next week.

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