I was a slacker growing up. In fact, I prided myself on it.
Great standardized test scores and shitty grades? That must mean only one thing (I thought) - I was a genius who chose not to apply himself. Imagine how good my grades would be if I tried.
Didn’t study, but solid SAT scores? Imagine (I thought) if I had only studied, my scores would be off the charts.
Out partying the night before a big hockey game and still played a decent game? Imagine (I thought) how amazing I would be if I only got a good night sleep like everyone else.
At the time, I legitimately believed this bullshit. I thought I was some wonderkid, as I measured my success not based on what I was able to achieve, but on what I was able to achieve without applying myself.
In hindsight (and I suspect, I knew deep down at the time, as well), I knew this was bullshit. Did I really know for sure that I would be amazing if I applied myself? Certainly not. Was I terrified about what would happen if I applied myself and was not exceptional? You bet. I was afraid to fail, and used my slacking off as a built-in excuse and safety net - if I failed, I could always blame it on the fact that I didn’t try.
This is an awful trap. Somewhere along the way I thankfully broke out of this, and started measuring myself on absolute success, versus “success based on minimal effort”. It is essential to do so if you want to achieve great things. And I’ve been infinitely better off for it. Every once in a while I fall into the trap yet again - like with my Boston Marathon training this year. But I’ve got a much better pulse on it, and am watching it constantly.
I know I’m not the smartest in the room, or the most talented. But I try to make sure I outwork anyone else out there - hard work is my superpower. Now I’ve got the opposite problem, which is that nothing I ever achieve is good enough. But I’ll save that post for another day.