“Strive not to equal, but to excel”

I find a reoccurring theme in my life is the same stupid question. “Why do you keep giving more than 100% when you’re never really getting the same back?” I’ve been asked this more than a few times. Last time I replied, “I really don’t think that’s the hill I want to die on. By myself.” Translated in the proper context, I was trying to say that if I were to suddenly stop, I’d just be alone. I’ve grown so accustom to that give 110% and only receive 50%, that it just became a way of life.

It became one of those unfair tradeoffs in life that no one wants to talk about. Kind of like how no one wants to accept the fact that not all men are created equal. The thought of a level playing field as fair has to be pumped into you at a young age because the harsher realities of life seem to scary. I accepted a long time ago, that in most cases during my life, I would more than likely give more effort than I would ever receive. This rings true in all aspects of life. Whether it be personal, professional, or any combination of the two.

It is often viewed in a negative connotation to most people, and frankly, I’m right there with you. It is upsetting, and can really weigh on your mind and mental state. “Why can’t they just try as hard as I do?” can get negative really quickly. It’s impossible to give over 100% all the time, you’d burn out long before that was possible. So accepting less than 100% shouldn’t be so negative, as long as you’re still giving it your honest best for the situation.

Yesterday I was checking out at Walmart, I had several different types of items. I laid them out in my usual way on the belt and waited my turn. About 10 items in the cashier remarked, “Wow, you really laid your stuff out really well.” I have always put my stuff on the belt similarly to how I saw the best cashiers grab them. Grouping things to make it easier for them, and taking weight into consideration. It only takes a minimal extra effort to accomplish laying it out more organized for the cashier. “I just try to make your job a little easier, if I can.” I replied. “I wish more people felt that way.” She said kindly.

Being honest, she was the first person who ever really took enough notice to actually say they appreciated the effort. Maybe others noticed, but never has someone acknowledged that this was a conscious decision of mine to place items on the belt in a way to help them. I was genuinely happy to hear that, and at the same time, it’s sad others don’t follow suit. No one ever made me lay my things out that way. I just did it on my own to make it all easier and faster for the both of us. We both win.

In life there will always be that imbalance. Think of it like a game, every player is going to have different strengths and weaknesses. Some things will come easy, while some may struggle. You scan still feel if someones giving you their honest efforts, and that generally for me is enough.

The hard days for me are when I am mentally reminding myself to give 100% because maybe I’m having a bad day. Maybe I’m struggling with things on my mind but I don’t want them to interfere with my labors for the day. Only then to witness someone barely giving any effort, or they just don’t care. That of course can apply to anything. Those situations are the ones people remember. Many people don’t even really remember what 100% feels like because they’ve spent so long only giving 60% they’ve now made it their new best effort.

I won’t bother trying to get into every scenario. I feel that I should always give my honest best effort, but as the cashier situation explained, my best efforts can be far higher than those around me. I do not strive just to be okay at something, I want to be a good at it. Not for ego, but for pride. I want to take pride in what I do. When I worked at McDonalds as a teen I may not have liked the job, but I took pride in the fact I did it as best I could (usually.) I made nice sandwiches, and always was polite. Occasionally in life our efforts are noticed, and maybe that helps in the long run. Unfortunately, we life in an era where effort is barely taken into account.

So someone such as myself giving best efforts all the time gets the same playing field as the ones giving minimal efforts. There’s really no place for my mindset sometimes. It may be mentally draining, but I’m forced to accept that I’m just going to give more effort than others. On some days that’s a very tall order. There is no Eden of people who always give their genuine best efforts. I’m stuck in an area where depression runs wild, and everyone’s scraping by mentally a lot of the time. I don’t want to just fall into that mindset, even if I’m having a hard day. If I’m incapable of giving 100%, then I’ll give them 50% of things that make it feel like 100%. I can’t force people to raise their efforts or mental state, but hopefully one day I can inspire them to. Even if I have to keep hearing the same age old question.

I know this update took some turns, but I hope the main points didn’t get lost.

Cheers everyone!

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