Hello my precious children. I love you.
“Keep being your best.” It’s a mainstay in our conversations. But why? Our character, who we are at our core, touches every aspect of our lives and the world around us. How we treat others. How we react to unfairness. How we deal with disappointments. How we deal with success. To live in peace, excel in our God-given desires and improve the world, we must always strive to be our best.
It was said best decades ago: having a strong character is doing the right thing when no one is looking. It’s being a trash picker-upper, a cart-returner and a responsibility taker. Even in the absence of consequences, we think of others. We cannot lift this world up if we are willing to lie, cheat, steal, ignore or otherwise advantage ourselves at the expense of others. At the core of strong character is trustworthiness. As a child, if I thought I could avoid the shame of bad behavior, I’d lie. One of the worse feelings I get in my gut is owning up to my own bad choice. We must do it anyway. We cannot build strong relationships (absolutely vital to every aspect of life) if others cannot unequivocally trust that our word is good and our moral compass precise. I think most people turn away from the obvious character-busters of lying, cheating or stealing. But being your best goes deeper. In addition to doing the hard right vs. easy wrong, we must also rise above our innate desire for fairness.
Our society, and even human nature itself, draws us toward fairness. If crossed, our first instinct is retaliation. Let me be clear, I don’t ever want you girls to allow yourself to be mistreated. Use those strong voices and rid negative people from your life. But never compromise your character at the hands of others. Here’s the deal. Life isn’t fair. Misdirecting energy trying to make it so prevents us from being our best. Our Lord tells us to turn a cheek. In other words, “evening the score” is not the response to people who either intentionally or unintentionally wrong us. It takes internally strong, fierce people to rise above mistreatment, real or perceived. Passed up for a promotion you more than earned? Friends turn on you out of the blue? Critics firing up at your success? You can retaliate or you can rise. Keep your head up. Keep working hard. Keep being your best. Trust God to handle it. A P&G colleague of mine received public accolade for her volunteer work. At the same time, the same management team, who signed off on my own volunteer work, offered me nada. Focusing on that inequity would have only led to bitterness, poorer work product and ultimately moved me further from my goal of a strong performance rating. Being your best not only enables you to skirt draining negativity, but also propels you toward excellence as you suck others in with Dyson-like magnetism.
Everyone (friends, employers, co-workers, neighbors . . . literally everyone) wants to be around and work with people who are good. Whose word is as good as gold. Would you sign up for a friend who talks behind your back? Certainly not. Would you like to work with someone willing to do anything to get ahead? Those people are the worst. How about someone ruthlessly reliable and dripping with integrity? Of course! Be your best and others will want to be around you, work with you and help you.
So while it might be easier to toss the wrapper on the ground, avoid the consequence with a little lie or strike back at unfairness, you are better. Being your best casts a bright, life-enhancing light onto yourself. Compromising your character dims that light. Shine brightly my wonderful girls. God created you for nothing less.
All my love,