Paddy Upton

I’m OK!

Ok, so the last blog post asked us to question our definition of success, and why specifically you we in pursuit of that idea. Having at least a decent idea of the direction in which were headed is a good start; there’s no point of setting off on a journey, especially one as important as the journey of life, with no idea of where we’re going. (And if you don’t know where you’re going, then don’t worry, any road will get you there).

Next is to check that we have the right ‘vehicle’ for the journey, one that has the best possible chance of getting us there. There are a number of things that we will need to pack for the journey, including but not limited to the right mindset, the right habits that will advance rather than hinder us, knowledge, or knowing where to find the necessary knowledge, having the right skills, the required support, and more.

When I deliver workshops to business folk and athletes on performing under pressure, the first requirement I discuss is having a deep-seated knowing that “I’m OK”. Not a belief, which is often a shallow mental position that masks an underlying lack of belief – but a knowing. Until 2 April 2011, I believed that the Indian team could win the Cricket World Cup, but it was only at the moment Dhoni sent the last ball of the game sailing over the ropes for six and victory, that I truly knew. Knowing is far more powerful than believing. And knowing that you’re OK is one of the most fundamental and powerful departure points required as we move in the pursuit if success; a pursuit in which we will inevitably encounter pressure, difficulty and at some point, get to stare our fears in the face.

“I’m OK” means that you are totally happy with and confident in everything you currently know, yet at the same time remaining hungry to know more tomorrow. It means being totally OK with and confident in the skills you have, yet at the same time working, training or seeking to be even more skilled tomorrow. If you only look at what you don’t know, or the skills you don’t yet have or have not yet mastered, it is more likely to leave you feeling inadequate, insecure or unconfident.

“I’m OK” means that you are happy with your achievements to date, and that you do not need to achieve success tomorrow in order to feel ok, valued or respected. Sure, you can want more success, but you do not need it. It means that even if you don’t succeed or achieve your goals, you’re still ok with who you are as a person. I’m OK is a state of being, where achieving success or failing is a result of doing.

When we fall into the trap of needing to succeed in order to feel that we’re ok, then we have started the journey of life (and in pursuit of success) on the wrong foot. To be human is to be on a journey of learning, growth and discovery; on a journey where nobody is the finished product. You do not need a certain amount of likes or followers, to score runs as a batsman, for your team to win if you’re a coach or athlete, or to make money and clinch the deal if you’re a businessperson, in order to prove to anyone that you’re ok.

When we can take confidence and security from who we are as a person, it largely eliminates the deep-seated psychological NEED to be successful. It is this need that creates pressure, anxiety and fear of failure, all of which are conditions that predispose us to failure! There are only four things we need in life, oxygen (without which we can live for about 7-minutes), water (we can last about a week without it), sleep (about 12 days, although apparently nobody has died from lack of sleep), and food (about 30 days). When we face the threat of being deprived of these survival needs, it causes high levels of stress, anxiety and pressure – none of which are conducive to the mental flow state required for success.

As you move in pursuit of a well-defined success, cultivate a healthy want (not a need) to succeed, to score runs, to clinch a deal or win that contest. One of the core foundations of the journey toward success is a deep-seated knowing that, results aside, I’m OK.