Your Best –
A new employee was given an assignment and then handed in a report to his boss. Without opening the report the boss asked this new employee; “Did you do your best?” The employee thought a moment, requested the report be returned and went back to his desk. The employee came back to his boss, report in hand, and before he gave it to his boss he heard the same question; “Does this report reflect the best you’re capable of doing?” The employee turned around and went back to his desk. The third time the employee approached his boss’ door he asked himself; “Is this the best I can do?” Without hesitation he answered; “Yes.” After telling his boss the same thing the boss said; “That’s all I’ll ever ask of you, your best.”
This story. told by the pastor this morning, is of Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and a subordinate. We often conflate our best with perfection. They are not the same thing. Perfection is both unattainable and transient. Perfection to one is not perfect for the other. Our best, however, is more manageable. If we are self-aware, have an accurate understanding of our strengths and weaknesses then we are able to give our best and that will be good enough.
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Follow My Lead –
Someone asked me a surprising question yesterday; “How do I get from where I am to where you are?” The question took me off guard because I’m usually asking myself the same question of someone who has something I’m lacking. After a moment I answered; “Find someone who has what you want and follow their lead. Get to know them. Build a relationship with the person.” This is how we grow. We recognize that we do some things well but could do other things better. With awareness, we begin to look for the traits, disciplines, the wisdom we feel we are missing and find one who possesses these qualities. If they are amenable we connect, listen, and allow ourselves to be influenced by their mind, emotional maturity, actions and spiritual depth. They won’t be perfect. Up close we will see they have flaws but this doesn’t stop us from soaking in the lessons they can teach us. If they are people we hope to gain from they will be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and are following someone else’s lead. Humility is key.
Too often our world shames and embarrasses those who admit their shortcomings. However, knowing where we need improvement is the first step to becoming a better person which makes a better world.
I was listening to a few people participate in a discussion this week on the topic of Donald Trump. The Donald is polarizing! I have yet to meet anyone who’s neutral on him and this presidential race unless they’ve given up on the election entirely.
The central point/question of the conversation was why some people seem to find it impossible to apologize. People who are wrong, off course, exhibit faulty judgement, have it shown, proven, to them yet they still refuse to say; “I’m sorry.”
What does this reveal about a person’s character? Last night, in our incarcerated dad’s class, we talked about the five characteristics of a good man. The first characteristic is, “Self-Awareness.” We defined self-awareness as; “someone who can look in a mirror and see who he is; the good, the bad, what he does well and what he needs to improve.”
Only with honesty and humility are we able to understand our true nature, strengths and weaknesses, and there is no such thing as being free from flaws or defects. Accepting our own limitations does two things; it frees us from the pursuit, illusion of perfection when it comes to ourselves and it lets us love others better because we understand our journey is one of progression not perfection.