Long story short, I once scored 99% in a maths test (not a typo, we say 'maths' in Australia) and was falling over myself with eagerness to share the thrilling news with someone whose opinion I held in high esteem.
Instead of receiving the cheer and pat on the back I'd anticipated, I was met with a very blunt "Which one did you get wrong?" At that point, my happiness balloon burst (stabbed by a javelin en route to my heart). I began to deflate immediately.
As if being kicked in the guts when you least expect it isn't bad enough, I was brought further to my knees by something along the lines of "you have no grounds to celebrate till you get everything right" (excuse me if I can't quote verbatim as things seem to go in slow motion when one is stunned like a mullet - the fish not the 80's hairstyle, though the latter is equally stunning).
From that moment on, something was inscribed into my subconscious - 99% equals fail.
I've realised how much this belief has shaped my life. I've spent so much energy and focus aiming for that 100% and if I'm so much as 0.25% short of the mark, guess what? - FAIL!
Not wanting to remind myself of the failure I am at 99% capacity, I opt to walk away and start something anew hoping that maybe THIS time I'll achieve that illusive 100%. Consequently this has seen me jump from job to job, industry to industry and gym to gym.
Okay, this is where I fess up.
Since breaking my butt, my gym attendance has been less than perfect (subliminally translating to "I've failed"). Another balloon burst. The pattern that generally follows goes something like this:
Feeling despondent, I spiral downwards from mild embarrassment to utter shame. I reach a point where I can no longer face the staff, eventually ceasing all attempts to 'redeem myself'. Then a few years pass and I'll be on the look out for another gym where I will try once more to be 'Little Miss 100%'.
Isn't that insane?
This time I'm breaking the pattern. I am turning the equation on its head. Instead of 99% equalling fail, I'm equating each 1% a success. It is far more uplifting to build on increments of triumphs than it is to aim for the seductive 100% mirage and risk another balloon bursting.
I know what I'm attempting to do is not unlike retraining myself to write with my left hand. After being right handed for 39 years, I'll instinctively revert to old habits. But with constant self coaching (courtesy of Project Grace 2010) and frequent reminders that it's the 'one percenters' that count, I feel I'm on the path to recovery.
Until tomorrow, may you accumulate over a million one percenters in favour of a hundred.
PS. I never bounced back after that test. My maths results went from bad to worse, till eventually I chronically failed (academic fails, less than 50%). I dropped the subject as soon as I was allowed to and ultimately became renown in the family for being 'bad at maths'.