NASTY SHOCK – The high school years were humbling for me. For some reason in Form 1 in the hills in Chishawasha I imagined that I would be one of the top students in class. I got a nasty shock at the end of the first term during the school holidays when the reports came. At first I thought there was a mistake with the school report but sure enough the report was mine.
FAMILIAR FEELING – After that it became a familiar feeling when the report came out. There were several kids getting better grades than me not just in one subject but all the subjects. There seemed to be a champion in every subject. To make matters more interesting there was one chap who had a monopoly of sorts. No matter how hard I studied I could never beat him in anything. One term I solemnly swore that I would surely be better the following term and did as much studying as I could. I woke up at very odd hours just to put in some extra hours. I went to bed very late hoping that I could improve the grades. I am not even sure these interventions really worked. A good deal of the time I was really tired during classes the following and would need more extra hours just to catch up.
WORK SMART! – More curious for me was the chaps I never saw studying an extra minute but who consistently gave me a walloping when the results came out. This was really hard for me to accept. That another kid could be much better than me without even putting in any extra effort at all. One day I asked one of these chaps what his secret was. Understandably, I was very curious, as would have been anyone else in my position. He told me that he made sure he paid attention in class and did not need to redo things afterwards. I have no doubt this chap was a really bright chap but his reasoning also made sense to me. He was working smart long before I knew the concept existed.
Fast forward more than a decade later into my working life, things could not be more different.
YOU TAKE THE CREDIT – It doesn’t really matter who takes the credit for the work. As long as it is done. My former boss took me by the side some years back after probably observing an overzealous subordinate who needed a pat on the back for any significant milestone at work. I wanted to be the best with the recognition that came with it. That was an important lesson for me from the whole experience. Let’s work together and make it happen. Let’s exceed the targets that we have set. If you want to the credit, no problem with me. So long the work is done!
BRIGHTER AND LESSER LIGHTS – My former boss taught me another lesson which I will never forget. Recounting his earlier years in his career, he told of how a subordinate of his had later gone on to become his boss. Personally I would not have handled such a situation well. Would my ego have allowed me to work well, reporting to someone who used to be my very own subordinate. This is not a problem. In life there will be brighter and lesser lights. You might think your light burns the brightest until you realise just how the brightly the room is when another light is on. Do your best in everything and wait for the rest! Interestingly my former boss is doing very well in his career with his philosophy.
LIVE LIFE – One sad thing about constantly trying to outdo each other is that life is passing us by while we are at it. Before we know it, the years have rolled by and we don’t have a single beautiful memory to reflect and reminisce on but dry, dull days with no smiles and laughter at all. Live your life and look back with nostalgia to the days when you did everything you could but did not let it run your life. The days when you worked hard but you still found time for family and friends, and to just have fun with family and friends.
I think it’s ok not to be the best but it’s not ok not to do our best. Maybe too many negatives in that one. Be the best you can be at all times and everything will take care of itself.