Sunday, April 26

Be so good

It's been making the Facebook rounds. Yes, I shared it, but with stated mixed emotions. I like the concept that when someone is really good at something it's hard to ignore that skill or talent or ability.

I don't like the idea of striving to be really good at something just to garner attention. I get that. I get wanted to be recognized and wondering what else I can do so others can't or won't ignore. I get feeling defeated because I am being ignored or I'm not being recognized. Believe me, I've lived this and live it.

But here's the thing: it's really dangerous for me to attach my self-worth to what others think about me. And maybe I like working in the shadows, which, interestingly, is often true. I like being the power behind the scene. Sure, I get annoyed when people take all of the glory for something they didn't do, when they don't acknowledge my work and that of others. But you know, that's going to catch up with them sooner or later.

Most days I am confident in my knowledge and my abilities. Most days.

Some days I am not. Some days I pound myself to an emotional pulp. Some days I wonder why I bother trying because there is someone better than I am at whatever it is. Heads up! Someone is always going to be better at something than I am. While there are still many unbroken records and streaks in athletics, most have been surpassed by another generation of athletes. Will some remain unbroken? Sure, but that won't stop people from trying to break them.

Even so, I don't think it's always about breaking the record or being so good you can't be ignored. I think the everyday reality for most of us is just doing our best. For most of us, our goal might be learning something new or learning how to do something better. Most of us are grateful for the opportunity to stretch a little, to find a better or more creative ways of doing what we do, to hone our crafts and refine our skills, and to help others get their footing and find their way should they be in the same line of work or the same profession.

In his autobiography, Ben Franklin stated he asked himself these two questions every day. In the morning he asked, "What good shall I do this day?" and in the evening he asked, "What good have I done this day?"

It occurs to me that being so good others can't ignore me is profoundly selfish. Yes, I want to be recognized for my abilities and talents. But I also want to use my knowledge and skills to help others in whatever ways make sense. And, at the end of the day, I want to know that I did what I could to make my world, my small spheres of influence a better place. At some point in my day, someone will acknowledge, even if only to themselves, something I did that mattered. In that way, perhaps, I won't really be ignored even though I won't be publicly recognized either. I can live with that.

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