To Be Your Best? Or The Best?

Success. Is it about being the best or your best? Ask Kris Allen. He just won the title of 2009 American Idol, beating out Adam Lambert who was the judges’  favorite.

Kris Allen and Adam Lambert

No one was likely more surprised than Allen himself. He literally stuttered out that “Adam deserves this”.

Kris Allen never set out to win this competition. He set out to simply earn his way into being in (and staying in) the competition. Each week he focused on doing his best and he took advantage of the opportunity. Over the season, he grew leaps and bounds and literally found his voice!  He was considered the ‘dark horse’ and with each week, he continued to be shocked when invited to stay in the game. As the season neared finale, it became clear that if he didn’t win, he’d succeed anyways….with record labels and other opportunities likely lining up at his door. 

Is there a morale to this story? What do you think???!!!

Focusing on being your best without worrying about what the competition is up to can often pay off. Each week, Allen was rewarded for being authentic and as Paula Abdul and the other judges regularly noted – he never lost sight of who he was. He played to his strengths and stayed true to himself.

There are many other stories about how authenticity and focusing on being your best can pay off. This, in fact, was the winning strategy for John Wooden, former head coach for the UCLA basketball dynasty. He brought UCLA to win 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years…and many other notable accomplishments.

His secret to success?

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best which you are capable….don’t worry about whether you’re better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become” (as  quoted in ‘Wooden on Leadership’).

What about you? Where are you focusing on being your best — and where can you leave behind concerns about the competition?  What of your strengths are you leveraging? What opportunities are coming your way — or are you creating — that you can leverage to grow yourself ? Where did you not earn ‘top spot’ – yet found success anyways because of the effort you made? 

For me…well, this coming weekend I am running a half marathon. I’m as slow as heck and I don’t give a damn. I’ve been running for 30 years…some years ‘ploddier’ than others. I’m proud of it all. I’m too slow to win any medals. But my father (a very accomplished marathoner with more than 70 marathons under his belt) taught me many years ago that every participant is a winner if they bring their best to the race that day.  So this Sunday, I will start out with thousands of other runners. I will focus only on doing what I can do that day – and I will bring my best.

To each of us out there….may you have peace knowing you are bringing your best self to your life each day.

UPDATE (posted June 9): For those inquiring minds – yes, I completed the half marathon! I was extremely happy with the overall experience and what I accomplished that day. I did my best for sure for that particular run. For those in the ‘marathon-know’, I completed my second half-split faster than the first…and finished strong (within my capacity). Now I’m setting my sights on a fall possibility:)

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3 Responses to “To Be Your Best? Or The Best?”

  1. Eileen Chadnick Says:

    Update: I did it! I had a wonderful run and I feel super satisfied with the race. I finished the run – and even came in a few minutes ahead of what I thought I might do. Most importantly, I know I gave it my all and for that day and particular race, I did my best.

  2. tentaculistic Says:

    That’s a very nice way to look at it. I think you must have a very positive viewpoint of life, which must be a blessing to those around you. Some might also say that this points out the discomfort Adam Lambert engendered in the kind of people who watch American Idol (he flames, he smacks asses, he’s polite as can be, and boyo the man can sing!). Safe and “good enough” winning over brilliant and incandescent. So perhaps the lesson to be learned is a more bitter one…

    Except that, Kelly Clarkson aside, the people who win American Idol don’t go on to success, it’s the runners-up who do (so far at least). I think Adam Lambert is already more famous than whats-is-name (oh yeah, Kris Allen). Still, it’s good to see that a nice guy (Allen) got a shot at fame… we need more nice celebrities.

  3. Eileen Chadnick Says:

    I agree with you. I think Adam was truly the more talented and should’ve won. And I think Kris felt the same way. I am sure Adam will be a super success. I still think Kris was fabulous (within his capacity….but perhaps not quite as hugely talented as Adam) – and I loved how his focus on being his best (vs. the best) played out. I used this as a metaphor to talk about stuff I like to talk about in this blog. But I could go on and on about the Adam thing….but suffice to say, I agree with all that you said. Thanks so much for touching base.

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