Be The Best You

Have you ever wondered how to be the best person you can? Here are five ways to bring out the best in yourself
October 12 2016 | by

IN 1947 UNIVERSITY of Chicago professor, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, PhD, was scheduled to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. At the time he was living in Wisconsin, doing research at the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory. He planned to commute twice a week for the class, even though it would be held during the harsh winter months. But only two students signed up for the class. People expected Dr. Chandrasekhar to cancel rather than waste his time on such a small class. But for the sake of two students, he taught the class, commuting on a 100 miles round trip through back country roads in the dead of winter. His students, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, did their homework. Ten years later, they both won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Dr. Chandrasekhar won the same prize in 1983. The professor demonstrated the increasingly rare and remarkable virtue of faithfulness: he could be counted on. Individuals like Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who rise to the top professionally, make great contributions to their field, and enjoy success and fame, are not simply ‘gifted’ or ‘lucky’. They are individuals who intuitively tap into their God-given talents. Reaching into their personalities, they harness and utilize effectively qualities common to all people. Scripture exhorts us to express and explore our gifts for the good of others. “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well,” notes Paul in Romans 12:6. The Apostle elaborates, “If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” (Romans 12:7-8). Here are five ways to bring out the best in yourself.

Daily specials

Apply the three ‘Ds’ daily. Even though many jobs are not high-paying and daily tasks may not always be glamorous, we can add dignity and meaning to the task by applying the three ‘Ds’ daily: diligence, dependability, discipline. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say: ‘Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.’” In 1995 Ruth Simmons became the first Afro-American woman to head a major college when she was selected as President of Smith College, which she led until 2001. It was an incredible achievement for a woman who is the great-great-grandaughter of slaves. Simmons began her journey to Smith on a cotton farm in Grapeland, Texas, where her parents were sharecroppers. Later they moved to an impoverished section of Houston, where her father found work in a factory and her mother scrubbed floors for white families. When asked howsuch humble beginnings led to a career at the top of academia, Simmons answers, “I had a remarkable mother. She would sometimes take me with her to work when I was a little girl, and the thing I remember vividly is how good she was at what she did. She was very demanding in terms of her own work. ‘Do it well, do it thoroughly, whatever you do’, she’d say.” In an interview while President of Smith College, Simmons declared, “I know the Smith Board of Trustees thinks I’m trying to live up to the standards they set for me, and that’s okay,” she says. But, Simmons has a higher standard, “Every day that I’m here I try to be the kind of person my mother wanted me to be.”

Power of persistence

Practice persistence. “Persist in doing what is good,” is the succinct advice of the Bible (Romans 2:7). Whether in business or in life, persistence is the life-force which leads to survival and success. Too many people are guilty of premature defeat. When they experience a setback or an emotional blow, they give up on themselves. Rather than remain faithful to their dreams and aspirations, they allow themselves a cheap resignation to fate. Rather than look at what remains, they focus bitterly on what has been lost. In so doing, they often become cynical and leave latent talents undeveloped. However, victory and satisfaction belong to those who do not choose the path of least resistance when faced with major life challenges. Consider the glowing example of Sarah Reinertsen, who was born in 1975 with only part of her left leg. Even that had to be removed to the hip when she was 7. In spite of being an amputee, the little girl was determined to pursue her interest in athletics. When she was 12, Sarah began working long hard hours with her track and field coach. Together they developed a new way for an amputee to run. Until then, most above-the-knee amputee runners ran by hopping twice on their good leg, then kicking their artificial leg forward. Sarah was the first to use the new step-over-step method in competitions. She runs by taking one step with each leg, the same way people with two legs run. That new method allows above-the-knee amputees to run much faster. For a time, Sara Reinertsen was the fastest female above-the-knee-amputee runner in the world. Because she was faithful to herself, she holds world records in the 100-meter and 200-meter runs.

Lift people up

Support others when they are down. This practice is strongly recommended by Tom Peters, one of America’s best-known management consultants. Reaching out to individuals facing personal or professional problems greatly improves your own chances of success, he maintains. “Your emotional or professional assistance will not only help him/her regain his balance, but he will also never forget that you were there when he needed you,” Peters says. When you stand by someone who is down on his luck, you’ll gain respect as a leader and become a tower of strength… win the person’s friendship, probably for life… and enjoy higher levels of teamwork and respect from your colleagues.” Healthy mind Turn the thinking dial and become more optimistic. “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven,” observed John Milton, the 17th century British writer. How and what we think can shape our destiny. Consider this recent Duke University study which clearly reveals the power of optimism to help people survive heart disease. Dr. Daniel Mark reported that “when people give up and feel that they are not going to make it, it’s usually a self-fulfilling prophecy.” When he asked the 1,719 male and female heart disease patients whether or not they thought they would make it, 14 percent said they doubted they would recover enough to resume daily routines. Checking on these patients a year later, he found 12 percent of the pessimists had died, compared to only 5 percent of those who were optimistic about their outcome. The lesson: turn your thinking dial and become more optimistic. That way you use your mind as a lifesaving, creative tool rather than a self-destructive weapon.

Believe in yourself

Repeat this phrase frequently: If it’s going to be, it’s up to me! Make the choice to believe in yourself. Choose to be a victor, not a victim; to soar, not sink; to overcome, not be overwhelmed. Repeat the phrase: If it’s going to be, it’s up to me! People who believe in themselves can often accomplish what appears to be impossible. Here is a fascinating reminder of that truth from some troops in Vietnam during the war. Four soldiers were driving their jeep through a very narrow path in the jungle. Suddenly the jungle erupted with enemy fire. They braked the jeep to a halt and jumped quickly into the jungle for cover. As the bullets kept whistling in, the sergeant called out to the others explaining they had three chances to get away. “The first thing is to run back onto the road, jump into the jeep and drive straight on – but we’ll be driving right into the enemy fire. Our second choice is to try escaping through the jungle, but that can also be extremely dangerous. The third thing we can do is jump back on the road, each of us pick up a corner of the jeep, turn it around, jump in, and drive back to safety. That seems like the safest course and I think it’s our only chance,” he said. Because the jeep is a heavy military vehicle, the sergeant added, “Before we attempt this, I want to make absolutely sure each of you believes we can do this.” When each soldier assured the sergeant it could be done, he ordered them to scramble back to the jeep. Each man picked up a corner and they turned it around. Immediately they jumped into the jeep and drove off at top speed, back to safety. That, however, is not the end of the story. When they returned no one at the camp believed the men lifted and turned the jeep. Others challenged them to repeat the feat, but this time in their presence on the parade ground. Wagers were even placed. Although the four men desperately wanted to prove to their friends they were not lying, they could not lift the jeep. The difference – in the presence of enemy fire they had to do it in order to survive. They believed they could do what they had to do. However, in the safety of their base, that belief vanished and they couldn’t lift the jeep. Finally, if you take a tumble personally or professionally and feel like a failure, bolster your self-esteem with this powerful truth from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Updated on October 12 2016