I wrote sometime back on the Gift of a day. But this time I am considering the gift of a person. We never really know how far we can go unless we push our limits. The same way we never really know how tall a tree will grow if we cut it down.
We think differently, feel differently, react differently. But we don't always celebrate those differences. Many of us tolerate the differences but we don't consider them as potential strengths, only potential obstacles to the relationship. Consider the fact that soon after meeting someone new we start thinking about them, their choices, their tastes and the ways in which they are different from us. We practically live in a society that encourages comparison and competition. Healthy competition that inspires us to improve on ourselves is one thing, but the dark side to it is when we are driven to doubt ourselves or feel ashamed of who we are.
Recently I noticed that when I sang in my room (behind a locked door) I tried my best, again and again, to sing as well as the singer I admired. This was different from the times when I have sung on stage. Fear was part of it though, but I feel truly now that I did not give my best. Now that I can see things more honestly, I feel there were two reasons. a) I was afraid that my best was not good, laughable or just plain pathetic b) I didn't want to give my best. And why didn't I? Because I was saving it for something else. I was saving it for an occasion that would feel just right: when I felt the audience on my side, when I felt prepared, when I felt I had more to gain and when I felt support (instead of scorn) from the organizers themselves.
But now I remember my journey as an NCC cadet. I remember practising a loud voice to command my troop. I realise that I sing better when I sing louder and really feel the song, as opposed to when I sink my voice and just want to escape the whole scene. Frustration got the better of my determination both times and I didn't do the best I could. I think I almost intended it as a lesson against the party which I was angry with: As if I could punish them by not giving the best of which I was capable!
I read The Leader had no title by Robin Sharma some time back. One of his key ideas is to give the best in all you do, to stick to a standard of excellence, to become a true leader. I did not fully believe his ideas then because I was inclined to think that one should adjust his response to the requirements. But now I see that I have missed many of the opportunities which actually demanded my best. Taking the case of singing, if I would have sung louder, I would have sung better. If I had sung better, who knows what opportunities would have opened up for me? Conversely, by knowingly giving less than what I was capable of, I only disappointed myself.
I think back now on the times when I did give my best: writing something I felt inspired to, trekking in the mountains, learning physics ;) , planning surprise birthday parties...Those times are now some of my most favourite memories. I remember them when I'm down and that I need to keep trying at the things which feel hard. Besides, they've taught me so much more about myself than years of superficial conversations, unheard lectures or forgotten articles. Those were the times when I felt I delivered. I felt proud of who I was. Doing the best you can actually expands on your best, because since those times I've felt stronger. And at those times, appreciation really didn't matter so much: I think I was just proud at a job well done :D And the results always justified the efforts. And now I remember one quote on success I've heard : " Success is not how far you get bu the distance you travel from where you started" . Many of those seemingly small and mid-size opportunities can really be a springboard for you and the success you want.
The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems - Mahatma Gandhi
Far and away, the best prize life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing - Theodore Roosevelt
You cannot become what you want to be by remaining what you are - Max Depree
Sorry, I couldn't choose one from so many lovely quotes :)
So here are my parting wishes to my dear readers: I hope that you will receive many opportunities to express your best self and qualities. Just don't waste them :)
I got the pic here