By Jacob Harris
Have you ever done all that to only fall short of what you had hoped for or had someone tell you it wasn’t good enough?
I have. The best way I can think of describing it is that it SUCKS! It really, really sucks. However, we can take solace in the fact that any driven, ambitious person will go through this, probably several times throughout their life. It’s a part of being human. It’s actually a part of becoming successful. What’s truly important, though, is how we respond when this happens. Do we sink into despair because we were unable to achieve our own or others expectations? Do we beat ourselves down with negativity? Or do we learn, and allow ourselves to be happy with our best?
After all, why do we do the things we do? At the core, it’s because we want to be happy! It really is that simple. We get jobs, have families, earn money, serve others, find hobbies, pour our whole heart and soul into projects, and ultimately it’s all in the quest for happiness.
Have you ever really known someone who didn’t yearn for happiness at their core? Whether it be the good guys, the bad guys, and everyone in between. So what do we have to offer in this quest? Really it’s just one thing. We have our best. We can’t do any better or give any more than our best. At the end of the day, that’s it.
With that perspective, how silly of us is it to prevent ourselves from recognizing “our best” as a kind of success of its own.
The famous self-help author Stephen Covey wrote, “You are not in control of your life, principles are.” Allow yourself to escape the crushing weight of constantly meeting expectations and standards that you are not in control of obtaining. Our job as human beings is really quite simple. I could surmise it into one simple sentence:
I painfully learned this lesson as a sophomore in high school. I love playing tennis. It is one my passions. On my high school team, I played boys doubles and I was paired with an older partner who is a fantastic tennis player. We had a great year! We worked hard and we dominated! We went almost undefeated in the regular season, won our district tournament, and were a favorite to win the state title. We truly had given it our all that year, and we were happy about it. Then came the state tournament. In our third match and with my expectations and confidence high we came up against another team from our school. This was welcome news to us! We had played against them almost every single practice that year and had NEVER lost…not even once. We knew they were tough, but we thought we were better. I was certain that winning THIS match would make me so happy.
It didn’t take long before we knew we were in trouble. We were better than them, and there was every expectation that we would win, but it didn’t happen. We choked.
I’ll spare you the painful details, but I’ll tell you this… it was fast and it was ugly. Before we knew it they had beat us down and knocked us out of the tournament. I had poured everything into winning. I can honestly say I had given it my all. My blood, sweat, tears, time, and emotion had all been in anticipation of this success, and I lost.
And yes, it sucked!
I was 16-years old and in what I now see as a pivotal life moment, I had a decision to make. Was I going to be happy with my best even though it wasn’t good enough for my expectations, or was I going to be upset and let this loss ruin my happiness and tear me down? Fortunately for me, I chose the former. Even though I had lost I had a great time at the rest of the tournament cheering on my teammates. I let that experience fuel me and went on to win the state title my senior year.
We may not be in control of the outcomes, and even our best efforts may not always get us the return we imagined, but remember, you can not fail when you bring your best. Your best is more than enough and that is something to be happy about.