23 July 2013

Personal Best–Runner-Up Blog Post

Last Friday’s blog post offered the winning entry to the blog’s writing contest--describe your personal best in or at a topic of your choice. Today’s post is the runner-up, written by Jay P. I think you’ll find why some judges thought there should be co-winners instead of a winner and runner-up. 

Please comment, let me know what you think of Jay’s personal best or send me any message you’d like conveyed to him.


When I read this “assignment” I recalled my time hiring police officer candidates. “Tell us about the thing you’ve done that you’re most proud of,” was the interview inquiry. This then reminded me of the trepidation many people experience in the job interview process. Or on first dates, which may partly account for a lot of nervousness associated with those meetings.  

Interviews, professional or social, as well as autobiographies documenting our big accomplishments are instances requiring us to “blow our own horns.” I’ve been in my share of interviews, successful and not so much. Though usually unflappable, I too find a certain uneasiness with them. I’ve come to think this is because of a high school lesson I’ve retained through life. In Latin class, the teacher would write some small item in an upper corner of the chalkboard for the edification of the day’s students. For me the most memorable was the Latin phrase ego laus feteo--self praise stinks.
The author, a police officer,
in the mid-1970s.

Anyway, that’s the topic and I have to come up with something! I was also thinking that personal bests can come in all the things we do. For many of us who strive to excel in our professions, personal bests are often work related. 

As I wrote, I did police work. Police officers can have many bests in what they do, though they seldom see it that way. In a lot of endeavors, doing amazing things becomes routine and part of the job. Some of those bests for me were arrests and convictions of people doing bad things, assisting victims of those people and contributing to preventing student demonstrations against raising the drinking age from becoming riots. It might be more accurate to say preventing riots from becoming bigger riots.
 

We have personal bests in other things we’re passionate about: running, sailing, judo, collecting, quilting, bartering, swimming, etc. I’m not so driven to achieve the next personal goal. I’ve ridden a bicycle 92 miles on a few days but never 100 miles; and that’s OK by me. For others, those goals prompt them to excel and so, are important. I applaud anyone working toward new bests.
The author and his sons when
 all three were young.

What is it then that I consider my person best, worthy of some self praise? I’ve thought about it for a much more leisurely time than afforded in the job interview pressure cooker. Though common to most of us, I think raising my two children was the activity where I dedicated my best efforts. This was made very intense for me because my wife decided, when the boys were starting school, that I wasn’t much fun anymore and found someone who was, without mentioning that maybe I should think about changing something. Though I have to acknowledge a lot of help from parents and friends, I did my personal best to keep things fun for my two sons.

1 comment:

Marcelle Miles said...

I really appreciate both personal best essays, and find it particularly interesting that they both are about parenting. Obviously, the struggles and rewards of parenting are a common theme, and therefore very relatable. I can also relate to the Latin teachers lesson of "ego laus feteo"; as a person of midwestern sensibilities myself I was taught not to engage in any pats on ones own back. Thanks for sharing!