Thursday, November 8, 2012

WORDS OF WISDOM: It says it on my magnet.

^The Ever Expanding World of One's Personal Best.

Dear Readers,

I come to you from a refrigerator magnet, hear my story.

I remember my first day of second grade, learning about "life skills": courage, respect, cooperation, independence, responsibility, leadership, perseverance, sportsmanship, and most importantly, we learned to always do our “personal best”! We even received a refrigerator magnet with the very phrase, "PERSONAL BEST!" that served as a constant reminder of our processes of evolving. 

As a second grader, I don’t remember thinking much of these life skills; the notion of a “personal best” didn’t seem particularly relevant at that stage. Okay, I’ll color this picture the best I possibly can. That’s my personal best, right?  Yes! Exactly. That was my personal best, what I should aim for at that point in my life, and it helped set the stage for setting and clearing the ever-rising ‘bar’ to which I hold myself today.

Now, almost 14 years later, I ask myself the same question: That’s my personal best, right?  There is a curious thing about one’s personal best: it’s always changing. You constantly challenge yourself to do better and to do more; ‘better’ at the activities you’re already engaged in and ‘more’ because every day presents new opportunities for impact and individuals who could benefit from your presence/action. So if your personal best is always changing, how do you know how much you can ever really do? You push your limits, and then pay attention. Pushing your limits takes courage, because it requires you to do things that you may never have been capable of doing, and fear of the unknown, or simply the "untried", can be a huge deterrent on setting a higher bar for yourself.

So how do you make continued progress on defining your new personal best, and achieving it? Simple.  Step one, make a plan – really, give serious thought to what dimensions of your personal best you want to improve.  Step two, write it down – this step forces you to make your plans concrete, a promise of sorts. You solidify what you are aiming to achieve and providing a written reminder of your new goals.  Step three, get a quick pep talk! From yourself of course :).

If you have ever played sports, you know that one key to success before any important game, race, or match is a good pep talk. Motivation, inspiration, a pat on the pack, call it what you like— no one can deny the positive effects of a good pep talk. I stumbled upon a fantastic quote today that I want to share with you:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” 
– Zig Ziglar

Brilliant! Now it is clear. We must do our personal best daily, but in order to do so, we must redefine our personal best so that it becomes a motivating force for personal and professional development. And that takes a daily dose of inspiration.

So I urge you – find your limits each day. And if you need a reminder, you should probably buy a refrigerator magnet :). After all... “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” -Helen Keller.

Your friend,

P.S. Raising your personal best ‘bar’ will certainly increase the chances of occasional (OK, perhaps even frequent!) failure.  Just remember that without failure there is no advancement, and preparing for and dealing with failures should be added to the list of your personal best life skills. Hmmm, …, we might need another refrigerator magnet!

Feel free to contact columnists at Unleashed 

The Words of Wisdom Column, Lia Vosti:
Lia Vosti is an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, majoring in Bioengineering. Growing up together, her words always made the most obscure situations crisp and clear. She is the up and coming Renaissance woman, able to give homely advise after a day in the lab, and wise beyond her years.  

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