Last year, I hit a rough, complainy patch.
I could hear it in my voice when I talked to my husband about my day. My list of complaints: meetings that dragged at work, our baby’s midnight wakings, our daughter’s homework procrastination, frustration and lack of time on every side.
I felt saddled with obligations that I myself had chosen and I couldn’t see a way forward.
As I fell asleep one night, an unbidden image came to mind of a bagger at a grocery store. An honest job, but a repetitive job. A job potentially worthy of complaint.
Giving advice to other people is easy, and I knew just what to tell this person:
Be the best damn bagger you can be.
The usefulness of this advice was obvious to me. A job well done (any job) brings satisfaction. Showing up as your best right now can’t help but move you forward. Being engaged in the moment right in front of you keeps you from wallowing and waiting for some fantastical future you’re never in.
Of course, the advice was for me.
And I repeated it to myself.
When I started to mentally glaze over in a meeting: Be the best damn bagger.
When I felt too tired to read my daughter a story: Be the best bagger.
When I wasn’t sure what to do next: Be the best.
And it helped.
Tasks I had avoided became interesting challenges. I had more influence over issues that had once seemed out of my control. I didn’t have to grump about problems because I was the best at solving them.
Whether you’re a bagger or an executive or a parent or an artist or anything else…
Whatever you are today, just be the best one that you can.