Paula Fendley, Ed.D.
paula@paulafendley.com

Who would have ever thought I would be playing Fantasy Football and then become attached to my players? I now read my ESPN notifications, seek advice from my son, the expert on all things sports, and watch the headlines for injuries and all kinds of football news. I root for individual players who I hope will do their personal best each week and score points for my team. After winning the first week, I was on a high and anticipated an exciting second week. I was quite disappointed when my players underperformed and my choices for the starting line up did not live up to their “projected” performances. I found myself angry at them for appearing to not have played their best. But how could I possibly know such a thing? In a sport where you must be thrown or passed the ball, how I could be mad at a player who seldom was given the ball? When we judge one person’s performance against a norm or another’s performance, we surely cannot judge personal best. When we ourselves, and others do not “measure up” to a perceived standard, we may feel a variety of negative feelings. My reaction to my fantasy football game caused me to pause and look deeper.

I see motivational posters in gyms and elsewhere encouraging folks to do their personal best. What is our personal best and how do we know when we have achieved it? Many of us may do our best in some areas of our lives and not in others. Some of us never feel we are doing our best and work so hard that our health and emotional well-being suffers. How do we know when to work harder, where to draw the line and when to feel satisfied we have done all we can?

Perhaps we should examine the effort we expend as well as our desired results. For example, there are athletes who shine throughout their youth and maybe a star in high school, but unable to make a team in college. Should we say they didn’t work hard enough or that they are meant to shine in something other than sports? Some might call it a blessing. There are also high school students who can make straight A’s with very little effort. If we look solely at the grades, one might assume they are doing their best, however, very little effort is expended so I disagree. I believe there is a big difference in “getting by” and doing one’s personal best. In fact, those same high school students often have great difficulty adjusting to college life when they attend a rigorous 4-year institution where the expectations are higher. There is much to be learned from being challenged and failing from time to time.

Maybe it is up to each one of us, to be honest, and determine if we’ve offered our personal best, and to make the assessment with a healthy dose of realism. It can be helpful to have partners in believing who provides valuable feedback as well as cheering us on. We will not always win the game, land the “perfect” job, find the relationship of our dreams or achieve our goal in a specified time frame. It is when we put all our efforts toward our goal and continue to fearlessly take steps in the face of adversity, that we know we are doing our personal best. In the ESPN Body Issue, one of my new favorite players, Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints said, “My plan was always to be the first $100 million receivers. All my steps, all my moves, the way I handle my business, the way I treat people—it was all intentional.” Let’s take a page from his playbook, and do our personal best in all areas of our lives and be intentional about everything we do. I believe we will see remarkable results. Why not make up your own Fantasy Dream Team to support you as you create the life you want to live!