My cousins, who are mostly younger girls, and I just finished watching season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter together. My brother is a big UFC fan and bought the pay-per-view fight last Christmas between, amongst other people, Ronda Rousey and Meisha Tate. That fight hooked all of us.
A lot of the show is real-world style nonsense that we'd sometimes talk over or fast forward through, but it had a lot of great fights and some insight into Ronda Rousey, who is really a remarkable individual. Her mother was a judo champion, she was a judo champion, and now she's the best female fighter in her class. Besides all that, she has incredible discipline and attitude.
My favorite quote from her was when someone, a favorite to win, was slacking off a bit. She told them that they weren't training to win this fight or even to be the best; they were training to be the best on their worst day.
Wow. Training to be the best on your worst day. A lot about this idea appeals to me. I like hardcore mindsets and the pursuit of excellence, and I'm a strong believer in the idea that your true measure is your performance on bad days.
That trap that the fighter was falling into, getting complacent when things become easy, is so dangerous. It leads to something far worse than failure: mediocrity. It's one thing to have limitations. We all have those. But it's another to fail to push up against those limitations.
Sometimes we need a reminder to set our sights high. That's what Ronda's little speech did to me. I need to train to be the best on my worst day. That's probably not a goal I can reach in any field, which means that there's always more work to be done.
Photo is my reflection in a sculpture at the MFA Boston