First, impress yourself.

Howdy folks!

It’s certainly been a while since I’ve posted but recently I’ve had some thoughts I wanted to share.

I was thinking and I realized as humans, we all want to be the best version of ourselves. We want success, happiness, and to have others view us as we view ourselves. We choose our actions to match what we think composes our best selves. But how do we make those choices? What motivates us to choose certain attitudes and actions day to day?

When I think about the composition of a day, I wonder what motivates us to make the decisions we do.  Today I woke up on a Friday (my day off) earlier than I had to to go on a run. I cleaned my apartment until it was spotless and here I sit at a Starbucks doing work for the afternoon to move myself closer to where I want to be. Why do we do these things? What is behind it all?

I have two theories. Back when I was in high school, I ran track. I remember the long practices, the burn of my muscles and pushing myself until I could have quit. But I didn’t and I always just wanted to be the best. Anything less than my personal best made me doubt myself as a person. Where does that come from in someone’s decision making?

It came from wanting respect from my coaches, peers, parents, and teammates. I wanted them to see me the way I saw me. Hard work was the answer to almost all of my problems. Nothing felt worse than seeing my disappointed coach’s facial expression after bombing a hand-off during the state track meet my first year there. Likewise, nothing felt better than the hug I received after a huge PR qualifying me for the state meet again the next year – a chance to re-do. Gaining respect from someone you respect is the greatest motivator of all time. That’s theory one.

This principle carried with me throughout my undergraduate career. I struggled, however, to find someone who I respected enough to want to gain their respect in return. That was a curve-ball I didn’t see coming! Then what? The motivation has to come from somewhere else. We can’t depend on others to create a reason for us to succeed. So what are we left to do?

I’m blessed to be in the position I am now, with mentors and family members who I respect more than I can put into words. But there is something more behind it & that’s what I sat down to reflect on today.  Theory two.

It doesn’t matter if your coaches, mentors, boss, or friends respect you. You must first respect yourself.

Who are you trying to impress? Is it the co-worker who sets the bar at work? The straight-A student in class, your professor, your coach? The person you should try to earn respect from first is yourself. If you are the person you want others to perceive you as behind closed doors, when no one is watching, the respect you earn from your mentors and coaches in life will be exponentially more rewarding. Mostly, because you like who you have become.

I once heard from a very smart influencer in my life that, “your self-image grows in proportion to the extent to which you keep your word with yourself.”

When you set your alarm to get up for a run early in the morning before work, and you actually get up to do it instead of hitting snooze, your trust in yourself starts to grow. If you hit snooze and sleep through it, you break your word with yourself. You lost credibility with yourself. You start to see yourself as someone who can’t achieve your goals. And that is who you become.

So I challenge you going forward – who are you trying to impress? I hope the answer is yourself. Because it’s behind closed doors when no one else is watching that defines your character. Go to sleep at night with a clear mind. Live a clean life that is simply and worthy. Make yourself proud before you worry about what others think of you. Do your very own personal best at each task that is important to you. Success will manifest itself in your life in a way that will bring you joy and happiness so you can go out and positively impact others and the world. After all, what else are we here on earth to do?

We might be millennials, but we choose to define what that means through our actions and our integrity.

“When you do something beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” -John Lennon


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