Loving One Another

I Did My Best

Thank you, GinaV, for this “adorable” reminder of how we measure our success most effectively:


When you posted it on your blog at http://professionsforpeace.com/2012/05/26/ongoing-learning-from-awards/, you created a caption. It said, “No I am not starting a new Award, but if I was I’d choose this great image!” You listed the source as Scholars Choice. Thank you for posting it and acknowledging the source. I love this adorable image – and am inspired by it to share my experience with this “Do Your Best” concept.

As an educator (K-6) in the classroom for more than two decades and as an administrator (K-adult) for a dozen or more years, I had the opportunity to experience first-hand how the expectations of others affects our self-evaluations, our self-esteem. How do we know when we have done our best? Who helps us determine what our best is?

I learned from a wise educator (Madeline Hunter) in an in-service once upon a time eons ago that the question is not, “Are you smart?” The question is, “How are you smart?” What a difference that makes! As teachers, coaches, mentors, parents, friends, our task is to look for the natural strengths in others (as well as in ourselves). We all have them. Dig! Build on successes. Learn from, but do not emphasize, failures. Rewaprd achievement.

My favorite expression when I was counseling teachers was one with poor grammar, but with great truth: “What you pay attention to is what you get more of.” Want success? Find the best effort and praise it! Find what the person does best and teach through that strength.

When I met her, Mary Jane was an illiterate adult. She was nearly 40 and she had spent the last 30 years avoiding the world of print. Her “best” was sorting clothes from the dressing rooms at JC Penney and putting them back on the proper racks. No words needed for that task. But she hated being unable to read. She hid it well, but it made her feel “less than.” You can imagine! She enrolled in the adult literacy program and I had the privilege of working with her to unlock the world of print. Sorting letters was a lot like sorting clothes. Matching capital to small case letters, sounds to letters, classifying vowels and consonants. One step at a time, backing up to the beginning, building on her strengths, we did it!! Have you ever watched the light glow in an adult’s eyes when the star illuminates and the heavens open? “I did my best” took on a whole new meaning!

When we are asked to perform at a level above our capabilities, frustration abounds. Maybe we WOULD be capable of that performance, but somebody needs to care enough to show us how. With love and patience, and confidence in our ability to catch on, somebody needs to break it down. Step by step, lead us through the process of knowing how, trusting that we CAN. We sense it when somebody teaches us that way. They believe in us. We begin to believe in ourselves. What a thrill!

Everyday is a new opportunity to DO MY BEST. What will I tackle with confidence today? Together, we can do it!

Comments on: "I Did My Best" (8)

  1. What marvelous advice, momma! You’re so smart!!! Xoxoxoxox

  2. Thanks, DeDe. When I raised you, Sweetheart, I did my best. A real measure of success as a parent is to have your children come full circle and decide after years of questioning your intelligence and your sanity, that “You’re so smart!!!” after all! Wow! I think I have arrived!

  3. Gina's Professions for PEACE said:

    Beautiful post Jan! I love it. Another one of your gems. Warm Hugs, Gina

  4. You always do your best, and expect in others.

  5. I wish it were true that I always do my best. I’m afraid the human qualities of procrastination and laziness sometimes creep in and I do not always DO what I can when I should. I loved your blog this evening, Lilie. It was so appropriate that it arrived on my iPhone at the end of a delicious meal at the Grizzly Grill in Cameron where Bob & I had spent the mealtime discussing the life and influence of Jack Murphy and reading his stories and poems from the anthologies I brought with me. Your blog arrived as we stood to go. We sat back down and I read it orally to Bob. We discussed the ideas all the way home. Still the injustice of it all spins in my head. Lots of food for thought!

  6. Reblogged this on A Grateful Man and commented:
    My first “Two-Fer”! This re-blog starts with an image that GinaV had on her blog Professions For P.E.A.C.E. (one of my favorites in the whole blogosphere!) and I found Jan Beek’s “Loving One Another” blog via GinaV’s blog too. I relaly liked Jan’s blog and wanted to share it with you. (Sorry, Gina, you’re going to end up seeing it at least twice!)

    • Thank you, Russ Towne, for visiting my blog and affirming my meager attempts at sharing some of my musings. I look forward to visiting your blog. Isn’t it fun finding new friends?

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