Why Better & Better & Best?
By Dr. William K. Larkin on July 23, 2012
Why, BETTER, BETTER, BETTER?
What’s The Purpose?
The norm, the everyday, is what we get used to, what we get accustomed to. It takes less and less of our brain to do the everyday work that we get better and better at as we do it. C. J. Prado, an Italian researcher on aging, points to this as the primary reason for aging that is decline. We use less and less of our brains doing more and more of the same things. We start to run more and more on automatic. Better, better, and best and the desire for excellence extend to many things. It might include wanting to experience the best things.
Steve Jobs was convinced that when you put the best into the hands of everyday people, they would become more amazingly creative. With 600,000 apps now available for the iPhone and iPad, how great he was! And these are inventions of great creativity and connectivity. When you have something that is amazing and beautiful, and an expression of excellence, it just takes you along on its creative path.
We are made better by encountering what is better and excellent in ourselves and others
But we have to aspire to excellence. We have to want it, to desire it, to begin to pursue it. It may begin by starting to appreciate what is better and best and excellent. It opens us up to possibilities, and when we experience excellence, it draws us out of ourselves and beyond our limits to new things and new experiences and the growth of intelligence and creativity.
My father always told me that if I was going to do something, I should do my best at everything I did. That was NOT good advice. That is advice for driveness. What is important is that I do my best at things that are important and significant to me that I love doing, and for which I have a passion. I could care less about some things, and I certainly am not going to give them my best attention.
Excellence propels us to be better and to grow, especially in those areas where we naturally excel. EVERYONE has them. Most people do not pursue these areas of their lives because they have been taught that it is selfish or self-absorbed. We think that if we take time really doing what we love to do that we must not be suffering enough or struggling enough to deserve such enjoyment.
One of the greatest reasons why people do not recognize or utilize their strengths is because they seem to be such a natural part of themselves that they go under-valued. There weren’t enough struggles or there isn’t enough pain in developing them. The “no pain-no gain” attitude may work for certain activities, and I am suspect of them, but it doesn’t work as a guideline for how you need to be spending your time. When you are doing what you love, or using your strengths, what might be perceived as pain for others, may not at all be pain for you.
Struggle is relative, and if what you are doing is taking a lot of struggle, you might reconsider whether you have the natural strengths to do it.
Better, better and best carries us onward to new levels of experiencing, to the inter-connectedness of brain neuropathways which creates new structures of reasoning and higher levels of intelligence, which never need remain static. Your I.Q. score is a grossly inflated, over-used expression of where certainly abilities were at a certain time in your life. It has great elasticity. Excellence raises it.
Start considering the best in yourself. What is it? How do you want it to grow?
Where is excellence around you?
Pursue it. Seek it out.
We do not always have to have the “best.” We do not always have to be the “best” at everything. We do not always need to do our “best.” But we need to be better, better, and best, and to encounter excellence where we choose to do so and allow it to wake up our lives to greater and greater experiencing of the good and the beautiful.
CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR COACHES
1) “Struggle is relative, and if what you are doing is taking a lot of struggle, you might reconsider whether you have the natural strengths to do it.” Comment on this in light of the knowledge and integration of your signature strengths. Tell us a “no pain, no gain” story and indicate how you see it now in light of your strengths.
FOR OUR LARGER BLOG COMMUNITY
1) This blog describes a process for achieving personal excellence. In particular, how do you see the idea that you do not always have “to do your best” but do need to be aware of the excellence around you and allow it to “wake up” your life to a greater personal experience of excellence? What role models do you have? What life experiences have shown you this kind of personal excellence? Tell us your story.
Fiat Lux wrote on Mon Jul 23rd, 4:12pm:
As I was reading the prompt for this blog, the word AWARE popped out at me when I read this question.
How do you see the idea that you do not always have “to do your best” but do need to be AWARE of the excellence around you and allow it to “wake up” your life to a greater personal experience of excellence?
I find this question a fascinating juxtaposition to research findings by C J Prado which states that
“We use less and less of our brains doing more and more of the same things. We start to run more and more on automatic.”
The juxtaposition, particularly in the work of the UpSpiral & the Emotional gym is that on one hand we are trying to routinize our processes of thinking to lean toward the positive and we practice, practice, practice these exercises which create new neural pathways that will hopefully become our positive default modes and at the same time we need to be awake, aware of all of the wonderful things around us…to be receptive to the generative living and learning environment in which we live. At this particular time in history where Ray Kurzweill predicts that the next 100 years we will be like living through 20,000 years of technological change, adaptability will be key. Innovation will be the word and work of the day.
For me the concept of excellence resides in a field of both intention and attention to what is around us. Imagining what could be…innovating on what is…working to create conditions which improve the lives of many which in my opinion will contribute to the betterment of society as a whole. A collective field of Up spiral consciousness.
Excellence is a state of mind, an ambition, and in some ways a necessary key for survival. Doing things the same old way will no longer cut it, in any arena. But doing things that are natural to us, put this
ambition of excellence within our reach. It would be amazing if this kind of thinking was embedded in our primary education at a very early age. I suspect it would have extraordinarily positive effects on students and teachers across the board.
chivalry57 wrote on Fri Jul 27th, 5:37am:
I was told early in my childhood that there are no short cuts in living life, getting what you want and having your “DREAMS” come true… Especially those ideas of stealing, lying, and cheating…no short cuts. I am in love with learning/ education, health/ being active, and having good sound relationships. I knew I wanted those things so much, that I continuously strive for them back then and now. My love and enjoyment for them caused the work and effort that I was doing to go beyond just achieving those goals, that it didn’t feel much like like work at all. It was my high!
This led many others in my life to believe that I was lucky (the chosen one) because to the outsider looking in I appeared to be “Lucky”...but in reality, I found things loved to do and wanted to have without having to lie, cheat or steal.
Being involved with my Up Spiral Group I am intensifying these belief that I hold dear to me to a whole new level of experience and achievement…Thank You ANI>
livestrong81 wrote on Sun Jul 29th, 9:30am:
I have always kind of “struggled” with what I was good at, never really feeling good at anything. Taking the strengths tests has opened my eyes to what makes me unique and what skills I possess naturally. It is refreshing to not only realize what my strengths are, but to also realize that I have a purpose and responsibility in using them regularly. Other people can benefit from my strengths.
When we struggle, it is most likely because we are living two truths and are confused or we are working from our weaknesses. It takes great awareness to begin to live solely from a strengths based foundation.
I have several “no pain, no gain” stories, mostly from my childhood growing up in church. I was taught to believe that if life was easy, too enjoyable or really great, to be on the lookout because it would all fall apart soon. In my church, it was taught that God wanted us to be obedient, not passionate and that “suffering” was just a part of His love for us. If we were too comfortable, we were falling away from God. If we weren’t “struggling” in some way, we were doing something wrong or bad. It was taught regularly that we must suffer in order to really be close to God or to gain wisdom, peace or spiritual awakening.
Throughout my adulthood, I have realized that this mentality is ignorant and a very sad space to live. I find myself still falling into this old way of thinking at times and the emotional gym has helped make progress to feeling good and moving forward. There is so much more to life than we realize! We are passionate, whole beings that were created to live an abundant existence!
neuromind wrote on Sun Jul 29th, 7:47pm:
Share a story of “no pain-no gain.”
I was invited to join a project… I know what my skills and strong interests are, and this opportunity absolutely matched what I would look for in a job. When I was doing what I loved, time flew by, I was in flow, highly creative, and was at my best. When the job changed and the majority of activities I had to do took me away from what I loved… it was more of a challenge.
This project was a wake up call for me. I saw emails that were time stamped at all hours of the day and night. When were they getting sleep?? When was I? And how effective can I really be… being so driven? It occurred to me that I was so driven that I could be driving myself into the ground, literally. My health was not a priority, work was. And happiness? It was a luxury…maybe I could squeeze it in… someday.
I was raised to “work hard” so the idea of no pain, no gain isn’t much of a stretch for me. Over the years I’ve become aware of my tendency to work too hard and I’ve lived a driven life.
When I completed the project; the clients were very pleased with the results, and I was very interested in finding ways to of work smarter not harder. At ANI I’m learning how to move away from being driven to being inspired, and getting into Flow. With this new approach I’m practicing how to conserve and even grow my energy, instead of burning through it.
What really stands out for me in this blog is “We are made better by encountering what is better and excellent in ourselves and others.” My top VIA strengths is Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, so I love the focus on excellence. I love that I am focused on growing the positive mind, and that the focus is on strengths, not weaknesses. It is my desire to grow and deepen my strengths. I want to continue to learn more about the practical application of neuroscience, for my benefit as well as my clients.
And speaking of excellence, this weekend I saw a program on Leonardo Da Vinci and I was INSPIRED by it. As a visual learner the program was rich and it gave me a lot to go on. I was introduced to his thinking process. I saw his experiments, how and what he would research, and his books that were filled with illustrations and notes. I’ve added Leonardo to my list of heroes, he connects with my signature strengths of Strategic and Ideation. I enjoyed the program, and have thoughts on how I want to grow these strengths even more. The journey of growing my neuropositive mind continues. And this was a joy (not a job or “work”) Nice.
palmspringsesq wrote on Mon Jul 30th, 2:15pm:
Excellence can be rather subjective. However, in relation to this work my idea of excellence is one in which a certain state of mind is achieved. It can be after completing a task or simply thinking of an idea. The process of the emotional gym and the using of ones strengths can be a way to achieve excellence in the goal of achieving more personal optimism and excellence in turn.
RebeccaE wrote on Tue Jul 31st, 8:00pm:
My struggles in life I believe come from a lack of self esteem. This program and the emotional gym is very exciting for me and I feel that I am changing daily as I utilize the information. I used to have a problem with getting good costumer service. I have been drawing great costumer service into my life by utilizing the tools of this process. It has been a blast and I just feel so loved by people around me. I will continue to use the information with the intent to better myself and my current circumstances. I love my life and this can only make it better. So excited!!
Mark E. Anderson wrote on Thu Aug 2nd, 4:56pm:
Resonated with the comment “When you are doing what you love, or using your strengths, what might be perceived as pain for others, may not at all be pain for you.” Brilliant! Life does not have to be hard. We can live in our strengths and live in joy!
Jeannine wrote on Thu Aug 2nd, 5:24pm:
There were several classes in college that were huge challenges, but I loved the subject matter. When I think of all the hours I put into memorizing the material and writing perfect reports one would think that these classes must have been difficult. Just the opposite was true. The work I did seemed effortless, enriching, and incredibly enjoyable. I gained so much from these classes that I know I use what I learned every day.
Katherine wrote on Sat Aug 4th, 10:09am:
Early on in my career I found myself working in a male dominated industry. I assumed I had to do better than my male counterparts in order to get recognized. I struggled to be someone through the eyes of others i.e. competitive, aggressive, and/or another characteristic that does not reflect my strengths. Of course, back then I did not know what my strengths were. I did feel it was a struggle to keep up. However, I knew I was suited for the work I was doing and found ways to stand out in those early years.
I started the process of identifying my strengths this last year and found that my top 5 reflect what areas I have been successful in at work. I am extremely comfortable in my abilities now and no longer feel the need to compare what I offer to my employer with my peers. I have unique and important skills based on my strengths that support my ability to succeed. The more I work within my strengths the more I will continue to succeed. The beauty is that I feel like this is the “real” me and I like what I see!
Steve D wrote on Sat Aug 4th, 1:31pm:
I am so glad to hear “I don’t have to do my best”; I’ve always heard that and in my mind always hear a judgment. If I don’t do my best that day, in that situation, in that thought, then I’ve failed. I love hearing I can just “be” trusting with absolute certainty that every action I take in the universe is not only in divine order but I am always guided by Spirit to the people, places and experiences that provide for my well-being. Today is the first day that I can declare my self and my own perosnal journey of healing as “my hero”; I look at what I have experienced in my life and I am in awe at what I have acheived, the obstacles to peace I have been able to remove, and the pure joy of being in life without judgment, attachment, and resistance most of time. I have seen the power of the universe always providing me what I need at the moment I need it; honoring the supoprt network i have cheering me on to realize my full potential. I am grateful for the tools ANI provides, the spiritual tools I use daily, and the deep spiritual connection I have knowing I am aligned and one with the universal energy.
gabenza wrote on Sun Aug 5th, 8:12am:
What life experiences have shown you this kind of personal excellence? Tell us your story.
I love the idea that I do not have to do my best at EVERYTHING! That would be spending much effort in many directions. I love the idea that I can use my strengths to grow my natural abilities. Being aware of excellence around me will inspire me to achieve excellence on my own. I have, and have had many role models in many areas of my life.
At one point in my life I was working for a company which had made many improvements in the Ultrasound Machine. I was a field applications specialist. I was sent to MD’s who were doing research in the field. One of them shared with me that he thought this machine was able to see so much detail that we might be able to detect which pregnancy’s were likely to continue or fail in the first trimester. He quizzed me on some embryology and I failed his quiz. He challenged me to learn more about embryology and tell others about this possibility. I purchased two books and read the chapters on embryology. Soon after we had a company meeting. I shared my experience and what I had learned with the other application specialists. Later my supervisor told me that I had inspired them. I had been doing what came easy for me; as my strengths are love of learning, and input, hope and optimism, and teamwork.
Mary Garvey Horst wrote on Tue Aug 7th, 2:39pm:
#1. “Struggle is relative, and if what you are doing is taking a lot of struggle, you might reconsider whether you have the natural strengths to do it.”
Both of my “no pain, no gain” stories are somewhat interrelated. They provide contrast to the person that I have come to embrace as myself. I am a left-handed, predominately right-brained individual. As such, I am hardwired for right-mode processing which is non-linear, holistic, creative in the visual-spatial realm, and who specializes in the social cognition of emotions/understanding others. Knowing this about myself it isn’t surprising that my list of Top Ten Strengths include the following: Spirituality, Connectedness, Love of Learning, Input, Capacity to Love and Be Loved, Positivity, Curiosity and Interest in the World, Strategic, Gratitude, and Arranger. The good news is that my life eventually (after college) unfolded into a series of highly relational jobs and careers in which I did not struggle. I have actually loved and excelled at each of them. I began as a high school teacher and later evolved into a campus minister. This propelled me into further education as a therapist and more recently, as a licensed ANI VisioNavigator Life Coach.
I really don’t like or enjoy math which comes more easily to a left-brained individual. I can easily say that I struggled through most math courses past the elementary school levels. I thought something was wrong with me. Wouldn’t you know that when I started taking on summer jobs, I began as a sales person and had to work a cash register. I was a “pro” with engaging customers and interacting with them. However, I became extremely flustered when it came to the basics of adding up their purchase and making change. I did not have enough awareness to know that I might reconsider whether this was an appropriate job for me. Well, it gets better! In college, my father got me a summer job at one of the old “Savings & Loan” institutions. At this position, I was to work as a teller taking in and posting home loan payments. UGH!!!!
I don’t blame my father for attempting to teach me about “the basics of life” as a teen. Once I began following my own path, I got into a groove of playing to my strengths. I can laugh at myself now and know that a career in math or finance would have meant a life of unnecessary struggle. Happily, I have a connected, spiritual, curious, and positive life full of gratitude. I love learning and am able to engage with clients in a strategic way to access their magnificence.
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