I'm more aware than I've ever been that doing something right doesn't counterbalance the things I'm doing that are very wrong. And it so happens that in my life now, there is a lot of both. But I can't - as I have so often before - think that this living is about averages, and that the good I do somehow erases the lapses, the mis-judgements, the indulgences.
No, I won't take this space to enumerate my failures. But I will note the corollary to the above: it's equally true that my lapses are not capable of erasing the smart, the generous and the creative things that I do. That detail is a precious little aspect of the way things are.
I've been watching a lot of sport, lately. Yesterday, it was Serena Williams versus Agnieszka Radwanska for the Wimbledon crown. One of the things I most love and admire about athletic competition is that the failures of the contestants is at the heart of every contest. Tennis players are always sending shots into the net, misjudging the tactics of their opponents, creating faults and unforced errors. And the pathway to success is always substantially bound up in how they manage these mistakes. However many aces a player produces, it isn't enough if they can't keep any of their returned serves in play. And vice versa. I admire the resolve by which a player manages to accept and somehow compensate for their short-comings. And it seems that the very best athletes are always working at managing their mistakes even better.
On the other hand, in the place where I work, and in the culture of almost all places I've ever worked, there's a substantial effort that goes into over-looking mistakes and weaknesses, in forgiving them and even accepting them as a matter of course, and designing 'harm reduction' methods to contain their effects. I'm not making a critique of the program I work for. It's a wonderful and powerful program of intervention and support, and its ways of dealing with the imperfections of our team are pretty standard, even humane. I thankful that I do not work in an environment where all of my weaknesses are used against me by an opponent who wants to defeat me. If I did, I would't survive very long.
But at the same time, I so admire the process that forces careful scrutiny of failures, in the effort to excel, to improve, to grow, to persevere, to win!
And so... I'm taking inspiration from watching sports, in which contestants are picked apart by their adversaries, and have to dig deep to come up with solutions to help them move on. I'm motivating myself by the examples of Serena and Agnieszka yesterday, battling to the point of exhaustion and beyond, expending grueling effort on point after point, only to see half their efforts fail, and having to push on.
I'm trying to push on myself. I want to hone and develop the tools I already have working for me. And I really need to take charge of some of my shortcomings, find ways to keep them from holding me back. It's not about eliminating them. No, it's more about: how do I manage my schedule better despite the fact that I'm not very punctual? How do I stay on top of my creative projects despite the fact that inspiration and the flow of ideas can't be rationed out among my days and hours? How do I keep a high level of integrity in my relationships, despite the fact that I so like indulging my appetite for doing things my way and on my own?
One of the things I aim to do, beginning tomorrow, is to write here more frequently and regularly. That's another tip I take from those athletes I most admire: their willingness to declare expectations for themselves, to allow their hunger and drive to be visible.
This is shaping up to be such an eventful year. I want to go for it. This year, I intend to leave everything on the court!