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Whatever you do – Do it to the best of your ability

do-your-best3

Fatima Haffejee |

Words weren’t always my strong point (even now, I’m not sure it still is) and yet, I’ve, since as long as I can remember, been an avid journal writer. It is something beyond description to be able to recollect your life in words. Almost like watching a video of your life, produced and directed by yourself, only in much more detail than a 2 hour movie would allow.

On an odd day I gather out my journals (dating as far back as 2003) and re-read them. They provide for meaningful introspection and in my case, more often than not, cringe-worthy memories. I look back at my life and realize how much I’ve grown since then as a person and whilst there are the odd moments of remorse there is nothing I regret more, when paging through them, than not having did all that I had accomplished, to the best of my ability.

BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

As a teacher I have one standing rule (amongst many others) with my students of which they have long since familiarized themselves with.

‘If you’re going to do something, better do it well – otherwise not at all.’

Even as adults it’s very easy to be swayed from our initial intentions when doing anything. As far back as I can remember, teaching has always been something I am passionate about. It was ‘work’ when I had to complete the occupation section of a form or when asked ‘what is it you do?’ yes, but other than that I was getting a salary to love, nurture and care – I was in bliss.

Until as of late.

The cost of living doesn’t come at a bargain price and I’m sure majority would agree to this. Simplicity in living is the easier option but let’s face it, superficial is more vogue. What with the famous backing up the opulent lifestyle and making it seem as if though contentment in living isn’t rich enough, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ became more easily said than done.

So I forgot that I loved my job. I forgot to laugh when one of my students did something unconsciously hilarious, I forgot to hug my student so tight she could barely breathe every time she broke off a flower from the gardens on her way to me, I forgot that they were children, I forgot the child in me.

All because I was too hung up on whether I was being paid my worth.

I wasn’t but is anybody ever?

APPRECIATION? WHAT’S THAT?

In our own way we’re all aspiring towards being appreciated. No you say? Well, either you’re an already well established name in your field of professionalism or, you’ve just recently graduated. In both cases, congratulations are in order.

According to 4hb.com there are 3 main goals people subconsciously seek:

  1. SYMBOLIC REWARDS

Inherently, we all have a need for recognition and praise. Everybody wants to feel important and special. This act of recognition and praise is a strong motivator.

2.       MATERIAL REWARDS

This is evident is capital societies where people’s statuses are assessed according to their monetary gain. The material gain we receive from our job isn’t merely a satisfaction of our needs and wants but a validation of who we are and all we’ve achieved.

3.       SECURITY

Security is achieved when people feel safe in the environment they are in. This can also be done by means of social acceptance, recognition, encouragement or a promotion.

I’m left to believe that the only time we’d receive recognition for the jobs we do is when we’ve done something contrary to what was expected of us. It’s no wonder an attention deprived kid behaves in an unruly manner on occasion. The Jacob Zuma syndrome as I like to call it.

NOW WHAT?

 

Tony Schwartz, a blogger for Harvard Business Review said it best:

‘Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter — that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we’re recognized for it.’

Thing is, the second we do anything for recognition or appreciation is the second we signing off ourselves to a sentence of life long misery.

There is not a single job in the entire world that will be recognized for its worth. Even an actor/actress who may have the world at their feet today, may receive scores of criticism for their ill-thought decisions, no matter how personal it may be, tomorrow,

So we’ve established that being recognized for our abilities is what aids in making us more productive, but now what? It’s not like you could go storming off into your bosses’ office after reading this and demand to be appreciated.

Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It’s also energizing.

The more appreciated we’re made to feel the more enthusiasm we display but appreciation isn’t always a given. Whilst we may receive some (if any) validation for our well-intentioned actions we shouldn’t live expecting it.

If anything, be your own sense of self-worth. Know your value, your credibility and keep company with those that dole out honest compliments when need be (alongside due criticism). Live your richest life not in expectation of anything but a sense of accomplishment and you will experience happiness from mere contentment.

 

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