I feel like this blog should have some stirring Mariah Carey soundtrack running in the background but luckily for you I’m not that cruel. Yesterday I had some meetings about a rather significant opportunity (cryptic or what?!) and it made me think about what it means to give your best. Perhaps craving to give your best is a residue from those days of being given a gold star colouring in with such intense concentration that you go nearly through the paper or perhaps, slightly more healthily, it’s the satisfaction of seeing your potential realised. Perhaps it’s simply the satisfaction of a job well done.
I remember vividly the feeling of studying for my A Levels. It was an unbelievable amount of work. It felt insurmountable at times with absent teachers and high grades to aim for to get into University. Do you remember that feeling of being so utterly stretched? When I was studying for my degree I remember reaching what I thought was the limit of my abilities and the absolute joy of going further than you thought you could. Or writing my Master thesis and desperately googling ‘food to help your brain work’ as I struggled to read the manuscript for the one millionth time. It is hard, hard work but oddly I know I’ve come to a place where I desperately want to give my all like that again.
It’s very easy to become dulled in day to day life. When the cheerleading of adolescence is over and you have to make your own opportunities. What you once thought of as your A* abilities are just that - stars blinking away in the distance that you can’t even remember possessing. I honestly think I forgot that I worked that hard for my University of choice until I was reminded of it yesterday. It was the first time in a long time that someone said ‘that’s good,’ and ‘you have something to offer’. Too often it’s easier to work within the limitations set by no one but yourself simply because no one challenges you on it.
I also think it comes down to motivation. Frankly it is difficult to summon up the desire to give your all when you spend your day creating mail merges. Of course there is a place for this routine, day to day stuff. Tackling the washing pile is never going to be a life changing event but on the flipside we only have one opportunity to see what we are made of and what we have to offer to fellow mankind (not to be too dramatic!). And more importantly only one today, one now, to do that in. I find it easy to see the potential in my friends and family but it feels big headed, and very un-British, to have a serious assessment of your own abilities and potential. But I’m more and more convinced that it is only through this honest reflection that you can really figure out what it is that you have to offer.
And who says where the buzz of giving your all is going to come from? For me, I need it to be my day to day work - of that I am very sure. For others it’s signing up for a marathon or putting the Women’s Institute through their paces with their latest craft endeavour. What I do know is that it takes courage. It’s so much easier to say ‘I bet I would win Masterchef if I had a go,’ or ‘I could totally get a Phd.’ It’s much harder to try and risk the possibility of failure. For some reason it seems to get harder to take these kind of risks as we get older. Perhaps it’s more embarrassing to get it wrong or to even admit that you still want to try such foolhardy schemes!
When faced with fearful moments I have a formula I have been using and it is simply this - what is more important to me? In this case is it more important to me not to fail or is it more important to me to try and possibly succeed? The answer plays itself out in little decisions every day. Gosh life is scary, but isn’t it FUN!