Lenten Reflection: Doing Our Best in the Beloved Community
March 17th, 2016
“I did my best,” cries the student when Mom or Dad questions the D on a report card. The same mantra comes from addicts when we have relapsed, from employees when our project fails and from CEOs when the company flounders.
In the beloved community, doing our best can be self-evaluated prior to, during or after someone else has questioned our outcomes. Here are some of the questions we might ask ourselves to determine if we are really doing our best.
Did I start soon enough to work on the project?
Procrastination is detrimental to project completion. The big P word has many and varied causes: fear of failure, not knowing where to begin, and waiting for other people to provide their pieces of the puzzle so we can do our part are just a few possibilities. Here’s the rub: if we know a month prior to the deadline that something must be done, waiting until day 28 to start doesn’t really count as “doing my best”, does it?
Here are a couple of hints to prevent procrastination disasters. (Here is my advice to myself and to readers.)
- As soon as the assignment presents itself, put the deadline on your calendar.
- Then mark YOUR deadline for a week earlier.
- Establish a timeline the day you get the assignment.
- Schedule appointments first with people from whom you will need information or collaboration to complete the work in a timely fashion.
- Perform each task on your timeline as promptly as possible. (Playing catch-up is not rewarding and does not help us to feel productive.)
- Avoid working under time-crunch pressure.
- Submit the project a week prior to the official deadline.
By working in a timely manner on projects or assignments we are really doing our best work. We feel better working in an unrushed fashion, taking the time needed to research, communicate and move forward a little or a lot each day. We also make it easier on the people working with us by preventing their being harried to get information to us the same day we request it, and we make it better for the ones doing the next steps in the project to be able to progress in the same reduced-stress climate.
Starting early and progressing daily is key to “doing our best” and valuing every project, every person and every outcome within a community where everyone matters.
Am I utilizing all my resources?
Spending an hour before we begin a project to look at the big picture outcomes and ordering some steps to achieving our ultimate goal will result in a smoother-running job. “Plan your work and work your plan” became a business adage for a reason.
During that hour or so we can also brainstorm initial resources that may be helpful to the successful completion of the project. Other resources will be added as the vision for the assignment blossoms; some resources will not pan out, but having a starting point with plenty of options for help will boost confidence and move us forward so we can “do our best”.
Am I trying to do it alone?
More and more leaders, individuals, businesses and non-profit agencies are learning that we do not operate well in a vacuum. There really is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. If we are trying to accomplish our work in isolation from others, we are not doing our best.
The whole point of the beloved community is that we align ourselves with as many others as possible. Treating one another with dignity and empathy is a hallmark of the beloved community. Leaning on each other when we need to do so is humbling and heartening. We are not “lone rangers” in this community of caring.
The writer of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes proclaims, “Two is better than one, and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” In this community we do not have to prove our worth by accomplishing feats single-handedly.
If we are not utilizing all the skills of common hearts and minds, we are not really doing our best.
What are other ways we might evaluate whether we are doing our best in the beloved community?