BEING BETTER THAN YESTERDAY

IN THE COURSE OF OUR INDIVIDUAL LIVES we accumulate a host of beliefs and convictions some of which may make sense only to us individually and which others may not be convinced of.  Regardless of this position, it is essential to remind ourselves always that each one of us has something of unique value to offer – different from what others bring to the table.  Without this fundamental belief, success and happiness will always remain elusive.

IF WE BELIEVE THAT WE ARE GOOD AT WHAT WE DO, then we also owe it ourselves to raise the bar each time a task is completed, however mundane it may be.  This sense of mindfulness has two beneficial spin offs – we savor with deep satisfaction the result of our efforts and the beneficial impact it has made.  To the question “What is in it for me?”, the simple answer is : my own happiness.  Even if there is no immediate, express recognition for what we do, the intensely selfish motive that we need to get better than what we were yesterday neutralizes the negativity induced by the said apparent lack of  timely recognition by others.  As a matter of fact, if we calibrate our efforts in tandem with the recognition or reward that we are expecting, we may end up delivering a sub optimal performance and feel even more frustrated. If our focus is sharp enough on what we need to do, even in the absence of recognition, we would have moved milestones ahead in career advancement and indeed prepared ourselves for the next big opportunity that may be in store for us sooner or later.

TO BE GOOD AT WHAT WE DO, all that we need is a sense of mindfulness, a sense of consciousness of our actions regardless of whether we are drafting  a simple email, letter, memo or document, conducting  a financial, legal or technical analysis, or making  a presentation.  We need to be fully aware of all the elements that make up the particular item of work on hand and be in a “state of flow” when we actually become one with the object of our attention.  This is when excellence automatically emerges and when we get habituated into  accepting nothing less than the very best of our own efforts resisting all temptations for quick fixes on the basis  “this should suffice” or “that will do”.

THE SENSE OF WONDER AND AMAZEMENT that we experience while watching a Federer-Nadal match, or say, a Mira Nair film actually conceals the innumerable hours of care, effort and  attention invested by the parties involved. When we keep raising the bar each time with respect to our own activities at office or for that matter at home, we create our own magic which is by no means less significant than what the tennis players and the filmmaker put forth for us. The attention that we invest in our activities create our own little heavens. It enables us to savor the delight of jobs done well and having facilitated the making of something important we end up falling in love with what we do despite the cynicism that may surround us.

FOR A MORE RIVETING AND ROBUST ANALYSIS of what is aired above, I can only direct you to the remarkable work titled Flow : The Psychology of Optimal Experience” (Harper Collins/Harper-Perennial) by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – yes I have got the name right !
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