I truly believe that our main goal in this life should be striving to be a better person. A better self than we currently are. Call it a better husband, dad, wife, mom, teacher, student… I say, “a better human being.” There are many facets of being a better person and it would take a long time to delve into each one so I will just briefly talk about the one that I find quite important: Being accountable to yourself.
We should be constantly looking for an opportunity to break the status quo and try different means to improve ourselves. The impetus for this, however, should come from us and not from an outside source. You see, we have always been pushed in our lives. Whether it was our parents, teachers or society as a whole, there has always been someone there to show us the path, set the goal line. Early on in life we needed that: someone showing us the ropes. I say, if we have had good role models in our lives we should be thankful for them. That’s a blessing and not everyone is granted with that.
However, there comes a time where we need to step it up and be our own trailblazer. We should cease to rely on the presence or the opinion of others to push ourselves beyond the ostensible limits. We should ask ourselves constantly: Is this the best I can do? How can I make this any better?
It really doesn’t have to be something major. We should start with trivial tasks. Say, it is fixing a leaky faucet (I’m horrible with fixing stuff, but let’s go with that). One should make sure that it is not a sloppy job, which would come back and annoy you again in a day or two. If you are making the bed in the morning, do it as good as possible. Be your own judge and ask yourself: Is what I’ve just done the best that I could have done?
Yes, these are little things yet most of life is comprised of little things.
Let’s not just waste our lives in autopilot.
It reminds me of this anecdote from Steve Jobs. It’s told in his biography (Link) that he once rejected the designs of the original logic boards inside of the Apple II because ‘the lines were not straight enough’. Even though no one would notice that he apparently rejected it because he would know that they were not straight.
Can we apply the same thing in our daily lives? Can we be accountable to ourselves only? Can do even minor tasks as best as we can? If we can, then we can apply the same discipline to medium and major tasks. We should push ourselves every day to be the best person we can be: that ideal person that we wish we were (see Blog), and be responsible to that and only that person. That would be the day when we know we have grown up.
Let me end it here with a quote from my favorite Stoic: “No man is free who is not master of himself.” -Epictetus