The #1 Year

Today is one/one/oneone (1/1/11). Okay so really it is supposed to be 1/1/2011 but for all intents and purposes there are 1’s across the  board. In fact, there will be an unprecedented 4 days this year where this will actually be the case. Usually, around this time of year, people are recapping the year that has past and looking forward to the coming new year and contemplating on how they can change to make it a better year than the year before. There is something about this tradition that gets me excited, especially this year (the year of #1).

In 2002, I was entering my senior year of high school. At pole vaulting camp over the summer, I met Justin Smith from Peoria. This guy was an athlete in every way shape and form. 6’3”, built, chiseled, fast as lightening, and could run you into the ground in the mile. He was the #2 dec-athlete in the entire Southwest. However, for Justin, #2 was not in his vocabulary.

We were roommates at camp and each night we would lie in our bunk beds before going to sleep and just talk. We talked about everything, life, sports, girls, careers, religion, and anything else that goes across a 17 year old’s mind. One night, as we were talking, he told me a story of when he was in kindergarten that helped me put “success” in a new light.

His teacher told the class to write down on a piece of paper what they wanted to “be” when they grew up. Everyone wrote down their dreams of either becoming an astronaut, a pilot, a fireman, a lawyer etc. The teacher then read through the answers each student had put. When she got to Justin’s, she came over to him and said, “Justin, you didn’t finish yours. You said that you wanted to be “The best.” Well, what do you want to be the best at?” Justin calmly answered, “I don’t know… just the best.” He’s lived by that motto his entire life. He told me that no matter what challenge or obstacle he faces, he challenges himself to be the very best he can be in overcoming it.

Since that night, I’ve thought back often on the story and what it means to me to be “the best.” Being the best means we try our hardest at everything we believe to be right and we try our hardest to block out anything we believe to be wrong in our lives. I didn’t realize it then, but being the best really has nothing to do with your position in life compared to another’s. It does, however, have everything to do with what you’ve managed to accomplish with what you’ve been dealt.

If, at the end of each, you can look at yourself and say, “I’ve done all I could today to be who I know I should be… me” then that is what matters. At the beginning of this year, I hope we can all make a renewed effort to be the best. If we will, I can see the year of #1 being “the best” year ever!

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