The Challenge To Be A Better….Anything


Life has this way of tossing us challenges, whether we ask for them or not.  Whether you’re an artist, an engineer, a programmer or even a stay at home mom – someone always comes along to push us towards being better at our profession, and proving that we can do whatever it is that they are asking of us.  The times when we fall short are when we are NOT given the honest, sometimes harsh feedback that says “do it better”.  The times I excel is when I am challenged to do a better job or be a better artist or person in general.

When I was in 12th grade, I had an english teacher that everyone, including me, thought was the hardest teacher in school…. and she was for a reason.  Her name was Mrs. Bell.   She had given an assignment to write a paper and I did the assignment exactly as I was asked to do it, turned it in on time and sat back in my seat.  A little later she called me up and handed me tha paper back saying “this is not good enough. do it over.”  Oooh!  I was sooo mad.  I had worked hard on that paper and I had done a good job, or so I thought and she had the nerve to ask me to do it over.  I could not believe it!  But I had no choice, I re-wrote the paper.  (I honestly couldn’t tell you what the paper was on).  I ended up with an “A” on it and she was much more pleased with the 2nd paper than the first.

When I got to college, and had my first writing assignments, I was so glad she had pushed me as hard as she had….I was so much more equiped to handle college and that level of work.  I was so grateful that I went back to my old high school and thanked her for the way she didn’t let up on me.

That teacher gave me the feedback I needed to succeed, to do better, to be a better writer, to push beyond mediocraty… to see I was capable of much more than what I was handed.

Now, let’s step forward 17 years and here I am a business owner and a graphic artist.   I rely on my client’s feedback to give them what they want and when they do not give me feedback, I can’t deliver in a way that will make them very happy.  I can almost guarantee it.  The people that are probably the happiest are those that have given the feedback necessary about the direction they would like to head on their project.  These are the people that have driven me to be a better artist…. and I appreciate every single one of them for their honesty and openness during the process.  I wish everyone could be that honest and open.

No… our feelings will not get hurt.  Well, OK, some things are a little hard to swallow – but aren’t the hardest things to take the things we need to hear the most?  Is it better to be honest with a person and say what is really on your mind or save their feelings and hold back?  Is it better to let that person hurt in order that they grow or protect them and ultimately keep them from growing into what they could if you let them hurt a little?  It’s kind of like pruning a tree — it probably hurts the tree just a bit, but then what happens – the tree flourishes!  That’s how I feel — don’t spare my feelings, don’t walk on egg shells, don’t tell me what you THINK I want to hear to ‘protect’ me.  Instead, tell me like it is — I might not like you for a day – but I guarantee one thing — you will probably make me think, and that hurt will drive me to change something and grow.  It has happened throughout my life that way.

And one more thing — don’t tell me you think I can’t do something — I will prove to you I CAN — telling me I can’t are fighting words a considered a challenge issued.   I am not one to back down from challenges, I will drive right into them full force…. I’ll show you!  Just like when a design professor said “go re-do that project — you can do better” – I went home and redid the design project with a vengence…LOL… “I’ll show him” I thought to myself that night.  What I cam up with got me such accolades that it was in the Student Show that year!

Maybe this is why I believe so much in my horse — everyone who has owned him before me told him “he can’t” and “he’ll never…” – I look at him with his beautiful eyes and playful demeanor and say “I believe in you… I believe in who you are now and who you can be and that together we can be great!”  After 7 years, I haven’t given up that hope that he will be great and I’m driving head on (very slowly) into that challenge… because the rewards are going to be fantastic!

So ask that of my friends and family — don’t give up on me, don’t throw in the towel, don’t try to “protect” my feelings and don’t think I can’t.  Be honest and open, tell me what God has on your heart to share with me and I will experience the fruits that God has for me and grow.

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