When I was in the 10th grade, I enrolled in a Journalism course. It interest me as I had aspirations of being a sportswriter or sports broadcaster (of course, after my highly anticipated pro football career!)
After a few weeks of classes of Journalism concepts, our professor, Mr. Ring, gave us a multi-week assignment to write on a topic of our choice. I was very excited and began writing about my favorite subject: sports!
I poured myself into the assignment. It was a bit longer than he had required and I added quite a bit of “flavor” to the piece. After a few weeks, I was quite pleased with it and was anticipating an “A.” I even thought, “This is so good, I’ll probably be asked to read it to the class or possibly to the entire school!”
Basking in my masterpiece, I walked into Mr. Ring’s office and handed him my voluminous writing. He began reading it and after the first few paragraphs he looked up at me and asked, “Is this the best you can do?” I immediately and proudly said, “Yes sir, it is.”
Without hesitation, he began tearing up the pages while saying, “You have NEVER-EVER done your best; you can always do better!” He pointed upward, loudly exclaiming, “The sky’s the limit!”
I was shocked, perplexed and hurt. I couldn’t believe it! Here was a teacher that I respected greatly, that after all my hard work, had torn my masterpiece to shreds! (Keep in mind, in those days, our writing was handwritten, not typed and saved on a computer.)
Although I was devastated at the time, his words “you have never done the best that you possibly can do” have remained with me and have guided and inspired me, for which, I am very grateful. Humbly, I know that whatever I’ve done in my life I can always do better; that it is not the best that I can ultimately do. Indeed, it can be said that even though at a given point in time, something may be considered the best one HAS done, but, it is arguably not the best someone COULD do if they spent more time and energy on it.
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Do the best you can, where you are with what you have.” And, I truly believe that. It can be counterproductive to spend copious amounts of time on a project when there are other important projects to be done and/or a deadline to meet.
In business, I am a believer in the concept of “continue to sharpen the saw.” To me that means lifelong learning; reading the latest articles, taking courses and talking to experts in the field. I know that with a sharp and informed mind, I will obtain better results of what I undertake.
And in my personal life, being ‘present’ is most important. It’s engaging with my family and friends and really being present with them when we are face to face. It’s paying attention to what they are saying verbally as well as saying physically. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, I do my best to make sure it’s quality time. My emails can wait, the newspaper can wait, and definitely, Facebook can wait!! A particular moment with my family and friends, and even new acquaintances, will only last for a moment; never to be recaptured.
This week, my challenge to you is to think deeply about how you can improve on what you may be doing or wanting to accomplish. Indeed, there comes a point in time that we have to set a plan in motion. But, let’s always remember that there is always room for improvement. We all can create something better. Maybe it’s that we could be more present when we are with others. Or, is it that we could find a way to be of more and better service to others, thus making our world a much better place for all? We have a choice.