Personal Best

One day, you will be just a memory for some people, do your best to be a good one

Life is a marathon, not a wind sprint; in the race of life what is your personal best? How do you measure it? Dollars, minutes, victories, fish size, lives saved, missions completed; it could be almost anything. So how would you celebrate a personal best? Perhaps a Selfie posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, buying a round at the bar, high fives, quiet reflection or thanking God for what occurred.

Some people are so self absorbed these days, it is pathetic. Anything and everything is globally scattered through social media, most of it important only to the writer and their loyal followers. Take a look at real winners, true heroes, how do they react when acknowledged and attention is focused on them? Check out Nelson Mandela, any Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, the NY firefighters after 911, US Special Forces or how about Bono? They all have humility, courage, strength, good values and true leadership. Each in their own area of expertise have displayed a personal best that will just make you shake your head in amazement when you understand what they really did. They made a difference.

Here’s the real kicker; true heroes, share their world class skills without fanfare, repeatedly helping others while expecting nothing in return, shunning attention; their actions speak louder than words. They and their peers know what was accomplished. Personal best, hero? “Well shucks, I was just doing my job.” US Air pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed his jet safely on the Hudson River January 15, 2009, is a stunning example. He was the right guy at the right time; 155 passengers would agree that Sully’s personal best was pretty good. I don’t recall any puffing, posturing, self adulation by Captain Sullenberger. He was so humble. A man gifted with skills used over thousands of flying hours, in all kinds of weather, displaying a personal best appreciated by few of us. Normally our flight discussions center on ourselves, flight delays, lost luggage, TSA lines, lousy seat choice, me…me…me…! We expect to arrive at our destination; we frankly don’t care what was involved.

Real winners in the marathon of life have an unstoppable passion. It could be a drive to make a difference, to protect America, back up a partner, help the vulnerable or injured, who knows. So what values are behind that driving force to excel and to sacrifice? I would submit that for many, it is their desire to help others, to reach out to those ignored by society. I would go further; many who deliver a personal best under simply extraordinary circumstances are selfless and prepared to do whatever it takes to sacrifice it all. What role models had an impact on the lives of these people? Hmmm, Jesus took it for the team. He reached out to those ignored by others, sacrificed his life for us by giving us a second chance and giving us hope.

It is not politically correct or cool these days to display the fact that you believe in God; pretty sad really. So being politically incorrect, which of these extraordinary international rock stars will be revered at the end of their life journey, Justin Bieber or Bono? Why? Time will tell but in my opinion, it’s looking rough for Bieber.

I feel there are many corrections officers who are quiet heroes behind the wire, helping those on the down elevator of life, affirming inmates amidst despair, violence and systemic apathy. The personal best effort of these officers is quietly shared with those behind real bars, those inmates ignored by society, out of sight and out of mind. The hope and respect is shared with absolutely no expectation of personal reward, YouTube publicity or high fives.

To this day, my wife Patty and I can clearly remember the wonderful federal guard in Pekin, Illinois who had written and published his own Christian books. I bought one, mailed it to Patty and then told this guard what I had done during one of my visits. He was humble and unassuming; a class act behind the wire, something many of his peers should learn.

I am inspired to excel when I watch the Special Olympics, see the latest presentation of the Congressional Medal of Honor and when I go to church. Helping others is a good thing; Jesus was good at it, how about you?



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