General troublemaking, Professional Growth

On being best

As a New Yorker, it’s hard not to get swept up into the notion of being the best. Every year when the Forbes 30 under 30 list comes out, I count the years I have left to make a remarkable change, to be noticed enough to make the list. I feel the pressure nearly daily; scrolling through my newsfeed and Instgram feed I see the list of who is being asked to speak on panels, teach a class, who is being published in HuffPo or Fast Company. I wonder what do I have to do to prove I’m the best? How can I get published? Who will look to me to be the expert? How can I get on that damn 30 under 30 list?! I know I am not alone in thinking about these questions. I have had several conversations with friends who feel the same way. I am not sure if it is unique to NYC, but I sure think it is magnified here.

Today I was walking down the street and I realized something.

Am I trying to be the best, or my best?

These two options are quite different you see. The former, being “the best” at something is likely defined by society, by culture, by the Forbes 30 under 30 list. “The best,” is determined by others, by outsiders, not by yourself (unless you make those claims yourself, but then you end up like those coffee shops that say “best cup of coffee in the world!“).

Since I can’t deem myself “the best,” I realized, I can only be my best. To me, being my best means to live an authentic life, to do things we enjoy and that contribute, and that make us and others happy. We have genuinely believe in what we are doing, and in ourselves, before others will believe in us. And if our contributions go unnoticed? Perhaps they are not noticed by the media, by your boss, or even your friends or family, but if you are doing something you believe it in they are certainly noticed by the lives you are changing.

There’s a sticky note above my desk that says “do your best every day,” and I now know that is all I can do. While I can’t control who decides if I’m better at something than someone else, I can do my best work every day, and be the best version of myself. For me, that’s doing things I believe make a difference in this world (my work at PresenTense, volunteering at the Future Project, helping with PurposeFuel), taking care of myself (yoga, meditation, eating healthy, rest and relaxation), and being a good friend and family member. And the rewards I reap from doing those things are completely satisfying to me.

How do you do your best? What would it mean for you to do your best every day? Let me know in the comments.

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