How many times have you asked a colleague or spouse how their day was at work or at a specific event and received the response, “Oh, it was just another day”? Have you heard yourself give this response? Every day you live you have the chance to be recognized as a ‘master’ of your own professional excellence, delivering those key gifts that are the showcase of nursing, teaching, administration, customer service, even volunteerism. The trouble is there are no maps for the journey, not even from Map Quest!
Why don’t we hear, “I really am proud of the healthcare initiative, sales plan, student curriculum, or volunteer event I did today!”? Where is the boldness or initiative it takes to deliver products or services that individually we can be proud of doing every day? What has drained our enthusiasm to step out of the ordinary and take pride in our abilities to deliver something meaningful, a true contribution to your community, your chosen industry, or a public volunteer effort?
Let’s examine some of the elements that inhibit or immobilize us into delivering the mediocre and keep us from walking with pride about our achievements. The first is possibly an excess of self-criticism. These are the perfectionists we all encounter, constantly judging every deliverable as never having enough features or that they personally don’t value their efforts as worthy enough to gain limitless recognition. Consequently, these folks berate themselves during the creation process and can never meet a company or project deadline. Their genius is never delivered to the public, there is no appreciation, and the cycle starts over again.
The second element can be the fear of public failure or humiliation. Often, we are paralyzed by experiences that were part of our learning process. As children we fell many times riding that new bike. As college students, we turned in papers or projects that only earned a C or D level, sometimes not even a passing grade. As adults, we may have given these events more significance than they are worthy of today. We fall back into those events with the same emotional trauma that were originally experienced and project them onto the efforts of today. Subsequently, we cannot free ourselves to continue the learning process from tasks or projects that could risk our family image or public status. This is different from arrogance or an excess of self-esteem.
A third element could be the lack of courage. Specific family dynamics, individual cultures, even gender can inhibit the demonstration of courage. Think of public figures such as, Mandela, Martin Luther King, and John Kennedy, in the demonstrations of courage it took for them to lead nations. What propelled them to lead through times of conflict, social differences, opposing worldviews, and political unrest? Courage. Each of these individuals made the leap forward to greatness; but, not without great cost. Mandela spent years in prison while King and Kennedy scarified their very lives. We’re not advocating the loss of life, but the investigation of what is truly worth your efforts in what is essential for you to champion across cultures, faiths, and nations.
Another element can be the acceptance of the same old narrative, in other words resignation. As a family, community, or cultural group we accept an old story of why we won’t be successful. The resulting resignation places us in a mood and environment that stops us from even the first effort, decreases optimism, suppresses creativity, and makes it acceptable to ‘settle’ for what is, not what
could be. Ultimately, resignation increases our social suffering, and we end up complaining about the very state we ‘settled’ for in the first place!
When you think you’re just doing another day, ask yourself:
- What could you be proud of today? Where have you been that you felt you contributed something significant to, meetings, mediations, seminars, public fundraisings?
- What emotions did you display or not display that would make you proud of your achievements at that moment?
- What would you change about your performance if you were ‘invited’ to do your best, along with salary? Would you be proud to be a volunteer?
- When was the last time you were invited to do your best, work or otherwise? Does the word invitation carry any inspiration for you to produce something you would be proud of?
- How did you help in your society today, participation in worthwhile causes like action meetings, fundraising walks, runs etc?
- What matters to you in receiving adequate credit for your efforts, public recognition, awards, salary increases, etc.? Does this credit impact the type of work you would accept?
- What’s the most foolish thing you’ve done while on the job and was there learning from the experience? Did you share this with anyone else, even in private?
- What permissions or approval from others do you need to leave the life of routine and create something extraordinary?
- When was the last time you stood up for your own values and core gifts? How did this make you feel, relieved, anxious, a renewed sense of self?
- What’s something that you did at work or in the community that maybe no one else knows about but you are very proud of? And does it matter that the larger public acknowledges it, but they don’t know it came from your efforts?
You, your efforts, and the pride of those around you could invite you to make every day a “proud of something” day. Accept the invitation.