“In all that you do, do your best!”
“Do your best in all you do!”
That’s what Mommy and Daddy always told us as we were growing up.
When I was ready to give up on my studies, Mommy would tell me that it was OK if I had studied all I could and I had done my best. When I had an exam and the subject was difficult, they’d say, “Do your best!” Those high school days when I used to cry over Algebra and Chemistry, they’d cheer, “Keep doing your best. Do as best as you can!” And when I barely passed college math, they were understanding. They asked, “Did you review?” Of course, I burned the midnight oil for that! Their encouragement drove home the point that if you’ve done what was humanly possible, then that’s good enough.
My parents based their standard on my own intelligence and innate ability. Even though they didn’t have parenting talks then, they understood that each of their children had different abilities they could hone. They expected excellence, but they didn’t demand that we be the best of the best. They expected good grades, but my grades didn’t define me. They took pride in our academic awards, but our medals didn’t become our identity.
Sometime in my early twenties, I had a superior who would often find fault in what I did. In her standards, I was never good enough. I cried a river in those days! It was heartbreaking considering I was so passionate in the counseling profession but my best always fell short. Sometime in my early thirties, another administrator at work told me I couldn’t do a talk. “We need an expert on that!” I wanted to laugh because she didn’t know the passion with which I pursued my master’s degree. I wanted to sing, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough!”
But I didn’t allow people like them to hinder me. I felt assured despite their criticisms because I knew the gifts the Lord had given me. My parents honed me to use these gifts and do my best. Deep within me, I knew there was more to my life purpose than being boxed by people who thought I wasn’t good enough. Throughout my career, I kept assuring myself— working and striving to do my best, with the belief that God will do the rest.
Doing our best means pouring out our sweat, effort, and talents. You can’t just wing life. You can’t come unprepared. You have to make the effort and give your best. But it has to be the best that comes from our own ability, from what God has blessed us with. We can’t just copy what everyone else is doing. I didn’t allow people who couldn’t recognize my effort and worth to push me farther from becoming the person God made me to be.
We all have different talents and knowledge that
we bring to the table to create something that will
impact the younger generation.
When I wrote the draft of this chapter for my social media post, I was in a UNESCO Asia-Pacific experts’ meeting in Thailand. I may not be the top authority among all the hotshots in the room but none of us treated anyone lesser than the other. We were assigned to small groups to work on different tasks, so each one has a part to do. I realized in that meeting, and during this season in life, that my expertise is not theirs. We all have different talents and knowledge that we bring to the table to create something that will impact the younger generation. The uniqueness of my own competency and expertise is what I bring into the room, what I contribute to the world, and to the digital generation. And that’s the best I can give. Life had prepared me for milestones like that meeting, which happened a month before I turned 40. I was prepared, was able to answer and contribute, and even served as our group secretary.
Expert or not, it’s doing our best for our mission that’s important. Thank God for parents who believed in my worth and ingrained in me the ethic to always give my best. I can tell my parents and the Lord, “I did my best for God, the source of my talents.”
At 40, I’ve learned to give my best in all I do. And the world recognizes my intention and effort.
*This excerpt is taken from The Beauty of 40 by Michele Alignay, available in paperback and e-book copy at http://www.feastbooks.ph!