The other day I was sitting with my daughter, helping her with her homework. Earlier in the day I had received and email from her teacher, letting me know about some of the struggles she had been having in class. The comment that struck the largest chord, was that when working by herself, she would have difficulty focusing on her work and act as if she could not do it, but when the teacher would work one on one with her, she had no problem. Ugg, my goal for my job as a dad, was to cultivate an independent, self thinking little lady! The irony. Well, so I had to come up with something that would “encourage” her to start doing her work independently.
Of course, at first, I was grilling her on the importance of being able to do things for herself and giving examples of when she did start doing various tasks on her own…i.e. walking, talking, taking a shower and so on, how proud she felt and expressed so. That, of course, elicited the glaze over in the eyes and eventually a rolling to go along with it. I had to do a reset and think. I thought to myself, the teacher mentioned that when she was working alone, she was having issues staying focused. Hmm, so instead of giving her encouragement and motivational talks, i would give her a specific task. “Try your hardest,” I said (wow, I just made the world shake…right…ha). I went on, “Try your hardest to focus on every little movement, every little thought, every little part of the task at hand. In this case, it was writing her name and a sentence, with proper placement of letters, proper punctuation, proper sizing and so on. So, each letter, for example, I would tell her to “try your hardest” on each part of the letter as she wrote it. To “try your hardest” to pay attention each moment with each movement of the pencil. I then told her to “try your hardest” to recognize when she was not “trying your hardest.” Then when she recognized that she was getting off track, to take a deep breath and blow it out.
That moment, KABOOM, I had an epiphany!!! It’s amazing how often wisdom comes out of my interaction with my daughter. What I realized at that moment, was that “Trying your hardest” is a fantastic tool, a fantastic reminder for bringing oneself into the moment. To bring oneself completely into focus. Just this simple phrase can initiate ones ability to reset the mind, and focus on the task at hand. Very much like we train ourselves in meditation, to keep the mind in the moment by staying focused on one point and noticing when the mind is no longer focused on that point and bringing it back. The only difference being, this is a way to bring our focus back during our everyday experiences. Regardless of what it is, making breakfast, doing a spreadsheet at work, talking with a client, doing homework with a child, or writing your letters….tell yourself, “try my hardest” at every aspect of the task. I tried it after my epiphany, and it was amazing how quickly I was able to observe my mind getting off task, and when I told myself to “try my hardest”, that I got right back on task.
Really, its nothing you haven’t heard before. My parents always used to tell me to try my hardest and do my best. Of course, I probably got the glaze over my eyes with a subsequent roll, but the truth is, whether they knew it or not, there was wisdom in those words. The problem was, my interpretation of the words and subsequent defensive reaction of, “I am trying my hardest!,” was based more on being obsessed with the outcome of whatever task I happened to be engaged or the fact that in all reality I had other things on my mind, other “tasks” that i would rather be doing. Funny the struggle between parent and child!
This, as we all know, is the plague of the human mind, always wandering somewhere else, anywhere else, instead of being focused on what is going on right now! It is the scourge of productivity! It is the nemesis of a peaceful mind! It is the creator of all stress and misery! Yes, I know, a bit dramatic, but it is the truth! For a mind that is in the moment, can never be stressed, can never be miserable, for it is in this state that it can process all that is necessary to make it through. It is in this state, that the machine we all call our brain works at its highest efficiency with the least effort. It is the state in which we can observe our true nature, our true self, the energy that exists beyond that which we call…I…me.
So, “try your hardest,” it is nice reminder, a catch phrase if you will, a reset button, for bringing the focus back to the moment. Just like my daughter, when writing her name, what exactly was trying her hardest? Trying her hardest was to place attention to every part of the construction of writing her name. From the grip on her pencil, to the placement of the pencil on the paper, to every movement of her hand while making each little line or curve, to the proper spelling of the word, to the orientation of which she would write it. Who knew there was so much involved in writing a letter, let alone a word. Yet, ultimately, it was placing all focus on the task at hand, on the moment!
So I say to you, my faithful reader….go out…and challenge yourself to..”TRY YOUR HARDEST”.. Remind yourself, as you meander through your day, creating your masterpiece of life, to “Try Your Hardest” to focus on each and every moment of your creativity! To “Try Your Hardest” to be aware of this gift we call life, and live it in its only reality, which is, moment to moment! Of course, as is with anything, the more you “Try Your Hardest”….the easier it will become to find yourself being in the moment and living a happier….more peaceful….and more productive life.
I wish you all much happiness….much peace….and much success with this beautiful thing we all call life!!!