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Your Best Self…

by Kim on January 13, 2016

Some of the best advice I’ve ever read, or at least took to heart, was something that Ginny Rometty (CEO, Chairman and President of IBM) said, which was “Never protect the past. If you never protect the past, I think … you will be willing to never love [it] so much [that] you won’t let it go, either. Never define yourself as a product and, in fact, I would augment it; never define yourself by your competition, either. If you live and define yourself by your product or competition, you will lose sight of who your customer is.” (And apologies to her if this wasn’t exact, but I read it on the Internet so it must be true J).

Seriously, I’ve read this same quote in several places, and even if it’s a little, or even a lot paraphrased, it’s a good sentiment. It also prompted me to explore my past and future at the same time while asking myself if I am truly being my “best self” at all times, both personally and professionally. Have I done things in the past which helped or hindered where I am today, or is it a little bit of both? Have I slacked off when bored or pushed through when challenged? Have I asked myself honest questions as to how I got here today?

When making decisions, did I ever take the easy way out, act hastily or even bother to think things through? And what was the outcome and why? Can I blame others or do I only have myself to blame for what went wrong, if, indeed, things didn’t go quite as planned? Did I try my best or do the minimum just to get something done even it got finished half-assed? Did I even know what I was doing half the time despite whatever it was that turned out OK?  And was “OK” good enough, and if so, do I want to settle for the status quo vs. brilliance? Will what I do ever become a brilliant move in my past that I can learn from or that can benefit others?

Whether you run a company comprised of hundreds of thousands of people, a small group committed to the same goal or as a sole owner of your own livelihood, you should be continually asking questions vs. kicking yourself over what you did or didn’t do without learning from it. Even if you “get by” every day, should that ever be enough or should you hit the pillow every night thinking that it was an “OK” day, while deep down knowing that it could have been better? Again, questioning every move while wondering if it was enough or kicking more moves into gear that should have been made to prompt the BEST outcome. And what if my best was not the best for someone else, be it for a colleague, customer or the community? Any bit of failure, even if not noticed, can spiral me into thinking that I’m not good enough, which can also be a valuable learning experience.

On the flip side, I know that what I do is good; heck, it’s many times even better than that. In fact, several times, my decisions or actions have changed a life for the better which makes me feel good because I know that I gave it my best and loved the part I played in helping someone else feel the same. There is not a better feeling in knowing that you’ve helped someone succeed.

Is it conceited when you know that what you did for someone else was a good thing? Do you feel a bit of pride when you helped someone solve a problem or try to see things in a light that helped them make a better decision? I don’t really know that yet, which is why I like to question things I do and continually ask myself the whole “chicken or the egg” thing when life happens in a good way for someone else.

While I’d like to have all the answers, I know that in life, I don’t have many, but I surely try my best to figure out what makes people tick and how their past decisions affect(ed) their future. I am not a pontificator per se, but I do my best to try to see all sides before making judgments, while questioning my own convictions every time I want to step in where I may not be wanted, yet knowing that I do have a great deal to offer. Actually, I think we all have a lot to offer, and gain, if we all take the time to question, yet understand the actions of others. The world might be a better place if we questioned and comprehended more, if only to grow and recognize that we all have unique gifts to offer.

 

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