Thursday, February 25, 2010

That performance does not tell me who you are, dog.

So one of the many, many side effects of watching too many competition reality TV shows is that you start to feel a little "Plain Jane", like a boring bystander.  (As a side note, let me clarify that I primarily watch reality shows where the participants are required to have some kind of developed skill or God-given talent in order to be filmed.  I rarely feel inadequate when compared to cast members of VH1's Rock of Love.)

The Top Chefs, the Project Runwayers, even the American Idol's, are taking their talents they have been blessed with or the skills that they have honed over years of hard work and laying them on the line.  And while I realize that they are at least partially motivated by the exposure to temporary fame, I also think they are brave enough to fail miserably in front of an audience.  How many of us have a love or talent that we so believe in that we would risk public humuliation and criticism?  I am not even sure what reality show I could star on.  Let's see.  Top Laundry Sorters?  Project Multi-Tasking?  Amazing Race to Finish All Your Responsibilities in One Day?

But putting my feelings of inadequacy aside, there is another factor about these so-called reality shows that I envy.  (It mostly comes from the my evil twin, Overachiever.)  These contestants get assigned challenges designed to display their particular gifts to their utmost.  And while they may or may not rise to this challenge, they are given a reserved time and space to do their very best.  When the time is up, they present their results to a panel of experts and are told whether they have made the grade. 

This panel, the judges, provide specific and enlightened feedback.  They ask searching questions.  They want to know whether there is a point of view or a general philosophy.  They want to know the back story.  They review and critique the flaws and the perfections.  They decide if all of the right choices were made throughout the process.  In the end, the judges are looking to see something that honestly and truly represents its creator, and they want to see something special.

I do and create quite a few things throughout my day; I check off many tasks.  None of these things are really my passion; none of them move me closer to great achievements.  If a judging panel asked me right now what my point of view was, I really could not answer them, because I have no idea. 

I don't particularly want to have a row of stern faces judging the actions and choices I make in my life; I am not that much of a masochist.  But what if, while we were checking off all of the tasks of our day, even the menial ones, we thought to ourselves, am I doing the best I can?  Is this everything I have to offer?  I know that I do a few too many things half-assed with a bad attitude; I figure that no one cares besides me anyway, so why stress? 

That's probably the wrong approach.  Sure, I am not going to be discovered as the best sock whitener in the country and whisked off to a life of fame and fortune.  Maybe no one else at work will quite appreciate the time and attention I put into building a spreadsheet or designing a way to keep my whole department organized, but it will at least make my life easier.  I will know I did my best and that my final product made a difference. 

Instead of just getting through it, of slogging onward, let's think to ourselves, "This is it.  This is what I am doing, and it should be great, because it's what I am contributing to my life and the lives of my family and friends."  We don't get the chance to compete before millions of people to prove our excellence and superiority, but that does not mean we should stop caring that what we do is a direct reflection of who we are.

Is this my life's point of view?  That's a question for the judges, I guess.  It might work...for now at least.