One of the first inspirational quotes I remember hearing as a kid was, “whatever you do, be the best at it.” This week’s mantra was inspired by that quote—but I’m not telling you to “be your best” or to try harder. This is not that kind of blog.
When I think of the quote above I immediately picture someone my grandfather’s age. A depression era child who was taught that “any opportunity is better than no opportunity at all, so do your best whether you have a broom in your hand or a seat at the corporate round table.”
Valid. And also pretty helpful. So many of the children who were taught that adage poured years of hard work into their days. Any opportunity was a reason to be grateful, even for the sliver of a chance that it could help you. Their hard work created stable lives and more opportunities for their children and grandchildren.
Grandchildren like us—the millennials who were taught that we can be whatever and whomever we want to be. Also valid. Helpful for some, hindering to others who are bewildered by the amount of opportunities there seems to be. (I think the same person can be in either camp, depending on the day.)
Recently I was talking to a woman about 10 years older than me. She owns her own business and is quite successful. She said to me, “sometimes I pinch myself at how lucky I am to have this business as my job.” She is a personal stylist. How did she get there? She worked retail for years and realized that she was so good at building relationships with her clientele that she decided to step out and help them find confidence through clothing as her own boss with her own business.
I thought back to my days of retail. I was in college and used my $6.55/hour paycheck for beer money and clothes at Forever 21. (Slight cringe.) I would count down the hours until I was done with work so that I could go home and watch The Hills. (Double cringe.) My days of retail were spent cringing and her days were spent building a career.
I don’t wish that I were still in retail or that I owned my own styling business. In fact, I’ve never been happier than I am when I am writing this blog and everything that I’ve done, including that retail job, is what brought me to this moment here. But, as it’s my job to write and reflect, I offer you this.
As a mindful person moves through their days it’s important that she can reflect on her tendencies. The conversation with the woman above struck me because I have a tendency to constantly look for something better. I’ve seen it in myself before and I saw it as I revisited my brief stint as a lousy folder of t-shirts. I was not my grandfather. I did not see every situation as an opportunity much less a reason to be grateful. Did I not seize an opportunity just because I wasn’t grateful?
When we are kids we soak so much in. We gather information from our situations and accept certain things as fact or truth. It’s up to our adult selves to look at those “truths” with wise eyes and discern what’s helping and hindering us.
What is it that holds you back from trying your best at every thing that you do? Is it insecurity telling you that what you are doing is not worthy enough to care about? Is it boredom? Or do you try your best, do your best, but still think you fail if the right person didn’t recognize your efforts?
What are your tendencies related to trying your best? Do you constantly strive for greatness—broom or round table—or do you only try your best when you feel the stakes are their highest?
Whether “doing your best” is a trigger for you or not, what really matters in this story is the reminder to check your tendencies. There is always a lesson to learn when you look a bit deeper.
I try my best and I try not at all.
What I try most is to understand and grow.
Have a happy & healthy week!