These are phrases which cause us pain. Guilt. Shame.
When we are really in the mood to cause ourselves pain and suffering, we use these tools, these words, compare our decisions to these infallible, perfect benchmarks.
We help others to release from their suffering, but we cause our own pain by comparing ourselves, our decisions, our responses to perfection.
And by doing so, we create more pain.
We hold ourselves hostage.
Throughout my day, I help others to see the pain in the word “should”.
There is suffering encapsulated in that word that unleashes itself in our lives. The word works like slow release cyanide. Its effects might not be felt immediately, but over time, as we compare ourselves, our actions, our outcomes to an absolute, to a perfect
…as we use our rear view mirror to judge our decisions…
…to attempt to anticipate the perfect response to achieve the perfect outcome…
…we set ourselves up for failure.
I find nothing good in that word. There is limitation, guilt, and shame in that word.
It is just a word.
Words are powerful.
As we navigate life there are no “shoulds”. There are no known, absolute answers to decisions.
There are some rules to life. 1+1=2.
But somewhere someone is trying to determine how even that is not an absolute. Some mad scientist.
Most everything depends on life’s conditions in some way or another.
But as we navigate life, we somehow feel there “should” be a direct path, a predetermined perfection.
Simple cause and effect.
If I do this, I’ll get that. Simple. Without question.
We know the perfect response right now. We take a step.
Then another, unexpected factor enters into the equation. Something we might not have been able to anticipate. Something we might have been prepared to expect.
And then we judge our decision and outcome against the perfect outcome as if every decision we make can be perfect. As if we there are no unknowns in this world.
And we become the judge, jury, and executioner of our well-being. We find ourselves guilty…
…and we hold ourselves captive.
We blame ourselves for not making the perfect decision. As if we are perfect, perfectly prepared, and perfectly able to know in absolutes.
Setting ourselves up for the fall.
My life has been a series of wins, challenges, and lessons learned.
Each decision, although imperfect, at times counterproductive, and counter-intuitive in hindsight…
…moves me closer to the top of MY mountain.
Each step – sometimes sideways, is a step around a challenge, a situation, a rock, which is in my way to help me reach the top of MY mountain.
We have not failed because of a bad decision. We make decisions. Some decisions move us closer to our destination, some sideways, and some might set us back. And the road is rocky and winding for a reason.
It “should” not be straight, because it is not straight. Our lives “should” not be perfect because they are not perfect.
Embrace reality, and the suffering ends.
Our outcomes are the result of a mix of decisions, but I reject “shoulds”. We are on a journey to the top of our mountain.
We need to take each step, test each step, as a step, not knowing the outcome, and fully embrace, love, and accept the outcome.
Knowing we did our best. We made the perfect decision at the time. We are being the best version of ourselves possible while testing our decisions to become better.
To advance, somehow, someway, to the top of our mountain.
And the top of MY mountain looks differently than the top of YOUR mountain.
But both have beautiful views down. Gorgeous decisions, experiences, challenges, wins, and events which allowed us to ascend.
And we must never compare our decisions against perfection.
There are pain and suffering in comparison. We are each on our own journey, to our the top of our own mountain. Enjoy the ascent, enjoy the view.
Enjoy each step for what it is… another step upwards, sideways, or downward on an upward journey.
A beautiful upward journey. Imperfectly upward.
We cannot appreciate success without challenges. We cannot appreciate wins without losses.
We need both.
We feel the path “should” be perfect. Steady. Constantly upward. Perfectly absolute.
But it is not. And we must enjoy each step on the way. Living present. Reveling in the perfect imperfections of each step.
Knowing that we are on a miraculous journey to the best version of ourselves. To living a High-Performance Life, as the best version of ourselves.
Today I encourage you to release yourself from your “shoulds”. Recognize the beauty of the imperfect journey, and enjoy the next second, the next decision, the next step for what it truly is…
…a step. A single step. On a beautiful journey to a perfect destination.
To the top of “YOUR” mountain. Compare your mountain to nothing. There is no comparison.
Enjoy the ascent. Love yourself, love each step, love each breath.
Each perfect breath.
The top of YOUR mountain awaits.
Mike Kitko is a former United States Marine, a former Business Executive, and a former failure. I coach and support Veteran business owners through life, business, and military transition challenges, so that they feel as significant and successful in the civilian world as they felt as a warrior.
I coach and motivate others to avoid and overcome the challenges that we all face on a daily basis. Because I have personally witnessed failure and rebirth, I believe that we are all more powerful than we recognize, and that daily mind, body, and spirit development towards your true purpose, using your uniqueness,