In this “Best of the Best” issue, our readers and fans cast votes on how others perform in their careers. Although careers are certainly important, I believe that who we are as a person is even more valuable (important or significant) than what we do. So in this issue, I’ll share some of my observations and insights about becoming ‘The Best of the Best” version of myself.
I have tried a number of different career pursuits—outdoor outfitter, restaurateur, carpenter, contractor, realtor, mortgage broker/banker, mergers and acquisitions, etc. I used to laughingly call myself the poster child for adult A.D.D. I would try something new until I had learned the skill or it became “too mundane” and then I’d re-invent myself when I couldn’t achieve what I wanted. The limiting factor was not getting in touch with what was truly best for me, and that resulted in not being able to reach the level of success I desired, no matter how hard I tried. I worked so hard, often over 100 hours a week, to no real avail. I ignored my diet, never exercised, damaged my relationships, and nearly put myself in the hospital several times. For years, I stubbornly refused to listen. But my friends, family, and the woman I love didn’t give up and eventually I came to see the truth.
We are all human and subject to wants and desires. It’s not that having them is bad; rather, it’s what we decide to do with them. When I chose to balance out my life and deepen my connection to spirit, some really interesting things started to happen. Successes and failures with my own family and relationships became apparent to me. As I began meditation and free writing, spiritual insights and guidance became much clearer. I learned to listen to the wisdom of the universe and to learn from the mistakes of others. I was able to find my best course in life. And once I had my course, I was able to set goals to make me joyful in the completion of whatever tasks I was asked to undertake. From that position, I could help myself and others.
My personal formula for health and happiness is composed of creating balance in the different areas of life. I believe we all need the same basic six things: a deep meaningful spiritual connection, a healthy fit body, a commitment to continual learning, a joyful home life filled with love, a fulfilling career, and friends who are happy, healthy, and a positive influence on our lives. By allowing myself to take time every day to examine myself and these six areas, I receive real and valuable insight, and I stay balanced. Self-examination enables me to see and overcome fears, toss away limiting beliefs, and understand what, for me, is best. And finding and admitting my faults—to myself and those that care about me—has been my first step towards real and lasting change.
Here’s a snapshot of how I’m becoming “The Best of My Best” in all six areas.
First, I took a long inner look at spirituality. Although this was not always true for me, a meaningful connection to God is my major secret for success. I am not bible thumping here, but for me thoughtful, meaningful prayer and meditation offer the opportunity to deeply explore and understand what is really in my best interest. If you invest the alone time in yourself, you will be able to better define goals and stay on track. Through experience, I learned that I need to set aside some quiet time for myself every day.
Second, I took a long look in the mirror to see if I was happy with the way I treat my body. Although I knew that exercise and proper diet are two of the easiest changes to make toward a happier and more productive life, I wasn’t holding myself accountable for doing it. I doubted my ability to succeed, and wondered whether the pain of giving up bad foods and taking time to exercise would be far greater than the pleasure I would experience from a healthy lifestyle. Ha! Well, I learned the hard way through years of denial and experience that nothing could be further from the truth! When I started respecting myself enough to take care of me, I felt better about myself, and people noticed and told me that what I was doing was an inspiration
Third, I took a long, inner look to see if I was happy with the way I treat myself mentally. I realized that I could benefit from more mental adventure—seeking ways to improve myself. Learning inspires me and affords me the opportunity to share that with my friends as well. Access to information has never been greater or easier. I really had no excuse for not taking some time every day to hone my mental state and increase my knowledge. No matter what I’m interested in, there is a plethora of free content out there with a simple internet search. Whatever I feel is lacking, I choose to take time each day or week to go learn about it.
Fourth, I took a look at my home life and family. Few things can be as fulfilling as a truly joyful home life filled with love. This is your place of retreat and should be stress and worry free. Proper rest is essential to being your best. Ironically, many people tend to take out their frustrations on the ones they love most. This is one of those times to just say no to anger. Being your best at home means being kind and understanding even in the most difficult of situations. Be firm, always be fair, and listen carefully before you speak to be sure you understand.
Fifth, career. Our choice in business career is important to our happiness and this is certainly an area where many people need improvement or often a complete change. Most people spend at least a third of their lives working. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it creates joy and a sense of fulfillment in your life. If you think or say, “I hate my job,” then by all means make an immediate change. Find the career where your service to others can really make a difference.
Sixth, I took a look at my inner circle of friends. I recall many years ago, I challenged one of my mentors, asking why I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I was young and quite immature at the time and thought I would show him that somehow what I wasn’t getting wasn’t my fault. I had a bad case of poor, pitiful me. He asked what I wanted and I replied that I wanted to be monetarily rich. “How rich,” he asked. “A multi-millionaire,” I responded not wanting to understate my goal. He told me I might want to reconsider my choice of friends. That made me angry. “How dare he?” I fumed. What have my friends got to do with my desire to be rich? Calmly he asked, “How many of your friends are wealthy?” Before I could answer, he continued, “Count them out please in the following order: millionaires, thousand-aires, hundred-aires, and just flat broke.” My paradigm suddenly shifted. Astonished, I realized that my friends did not share my aspirations for wealth and they were a very influential part of my life. I now realize there are far more important things than the simple accumulation of wealth, and many of my “poor” friends were rich in other ways. What I did was expand my circle. I learned from that experience to be sure to seek out new friends in all the areas of life in which I wanted to grow. Who better to learn from than a friend you loves you and cares for your happiness.
It is my observation that it’s not just me who can benefit from taking a good, long look at myself. We as a society clearly need to make some serious changes for the benefit of our health in all areas. A large percentage of the general population is now chronically obese and completely addicted to sugar and fast food. In addition to these health problems but not always as obvious are hidden addictions like opioids. There are more prescriptions to opioids than there are adults in the state of Tennessee and we have over 1,000 deaths a year from opioid overdose. In addition, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are right up there with common “coping mechanisms” that solve no problems and take us farther and farther from mental and physical health.
I believe that there is a better option. We can use our intuition and willpower to choose what is best without allowing our fear or desire to sway us from our highest goals. We can truly love and accept ourself so that we have the confidence to choose what is best.