The Benefits of Being the Best You

Laura is a mother of three. Her fifteen-year-old daughter tells her she’s pregnant. Her mind is screaming. She wants to explode in rage. But she keeps her cool and tells her daughter that everything will be okay and that she loves her. And the world is changed forever.

Amanda is in the eighth grade. She is at a sleepover at Tina’s house with six other girls. Tina has “cool parents” who let them put on an R-rated movie. Amanda, embarrassed and knowing what this means for her social life, calls her parents to pick her up. And the world is changed forever.

Mike is a husband and father. His marriage of twenty-five years has been struggling. On a business trip, an attractive coworker sends him a provocative text. He deletes the text and goes to bed. And the world is changed forever.

When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.

Your life is the product of your decisions. Great decisions create a great life. Poor decisions create a troubled life. But your decisions affect more than just you personally. Your decisions affect everyone you come in contact with. Each great decision you make changes the world forever.

This is why consistently choosing to be the-best-version-of-yourself—like Laura, Amanda, and Mike—is so vital. When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know. From your immediate family to complete strangers, you will influence people with your decisions.

Here are four ways the people around you benefit from your great decisions.

1. How Your Family Benefits

When you choose to be a-second-rate-version-of-yourself, you are actively choosing to hinder your family’s ability to succeed and thrive. When you put something else first-—your pride, money, a certain vice—you are declaring that those things are more important than your family. And your family intuitively feels this lesser-version-of-you affecting their lives. And they are diminished because of it.

Can you remember being a kid? So much of your mood and attitude were tied up in how your parents were feeling or behaving. When my dad was upset, I was much more easily upset. When my mom was angry, I responded with anger. On the other hand, when my dad was calm and relaxed, nothing could phase me. When my mom was peaceful and laughing, I felt like I could do anything in the world.

When you make a great decision, your parents, your siblings, your kids, and your spouse are all better for it.

Now that I’m the parent, it’s hard for me to keep this concept in mind regarding my own mood, behavior, and choices. It might be obvious to you that choosing the-best-version-of-yourself as a mom or dad has an immediate and lasting effect on your kids. But obvious doesn’t mean easy. It takes daily, conscious effort. The impact you have on the world by raising great kids is infinite.

As a husband or wife, each decision you make affects your marriage and your spouse. Even seemingly little “victimless” decisions—staying late at work or telling a white lie or spending too much time on social media—all have a lasting impact on your spouse’s life.

If you don’t have a wife or kids, don’t think you’re off the hook. As a child, even if you’re in your teens, you have more influence on your parents than you think. When a boy makes poor decisions, his parents are devastated. Moms and dads live in a constant state of worry, hoping and praying their children make great decisions and live great lives and surround themselves with great friends. Even if you’re in your fities, your elderly parents are constantly thinking about you and worrying over you.

When you make a great decision, your parents, your siblings, your kids, and your spouse are all better for it.

2. How Your Friends Benefit

What makes someone a great friend? Ask 10,000 people across all continents and cultures and you’ll get the same characteristics: loyal, honest, trustworthy, generous, and kind. You will also get some variation of this idea: “They bring out the best in me.”

When you are at your best, your friends thrive.

It’s interesting that most of the qualities we find endearing in a great friend are not those championed by popular culture. Modern culture tells us to “seize the day” and “take what’s yours” and “do what feels good.” It tells you that if you must be loyal, be loyal to 1) yourself and 2) your favorite brands. It undercuts honesty by constantly lying to you. It tells you to be generous with your opinion and beliefs but to spend your money on things you think will make you happy. Culture doesn’t want you to be a great friend; culture wants you to be a great consumer.

We all know what makes a good friend. But do we embody these qualities ourselves? Sometimes, sure. But many times, we buy into the culture’s lies. We are much more concerned with ourselves and our own desires, focusing inward instead of outward. We choose a-second-rate-version-of-ourselves and our friends suffer for it, all the while we’re still expecting our friends to choose the-best-version-of-themselves so we can benefit from their friendship.

When you are at your best, your friends thrive. When you make great decisions, your friends will make great decisions. When you make great decisions, you are able to stop worrying about your own needs and you can start tending to others’ needs.

It is impossible to be the-best-version-of-yourself and not be a great friend.

3. How Your Coworkers Benefit

There is an episode of The Office where one of the quirkiest characters, Dwight, leaves the small Midwest paper company to work at Staples. Once he’s gone, Michael Scott, his former boss, notices things aren’t running as smoothly. The entire sales team is swamped with work in his absence, the office plants are dying, and even Michael’s desk toys don’t look right to him!

What Michael didn’t realize was just how much Dwight did for the company (he was rearranging the toys every night and watering the plants, among other things). He was a great, if eccentric, salesman, but his performance was just the tip of the iceberg on how he was impacting the business and his coworkers. He was more than his title.

You are so much more than the work you do, too. Granted, performing with excellence is definitely a part of being the-best-version-of-yourself. You can’t phone it in at work and be the-best-version-of-yourself at the same time. But your character—who you are—has an immediate and lasting effect on your coworkers.

Think about it. In most cases, the average 40-hours-a-week employee is spending more time with fellow coworkers than his own family. Your coworkers might be interacting with you more than they are reading books or watching TV. And the higher up you are in an organization, you are inherently more influential to your colleagues.

Small, awesome decisions, made consistently and deliberately over the course of a career, will change your coworkers’ lives and the world. Showing up early for meetings, staying positive (especially when working with people below your “pay-grade”), staying off your phone during meetings, giving credit where credit is due, avoid blaming others even when you feel it is just to assign blame, passing up a promotion because you know the money isn’t worth the lost time with your family, avoiding gossip, or even calling people out for talking poorly about colleagues behind their backs—these things might seem trivial (or, to some, like poor choices). But your peers notice them.

Your coworkers will see you at your best and think: “She’s got it figured out. I want what she has . . .”

4. How Complete Strangers Benefit

By now, I hope you’re nodding along as you read this or even saying: Of course my decisions impact those people closest to me! This section, however, might strike you as a little more far-fetched and unbelievable.

How can choosing the-best-version-of-myself affect complete strangers?

Easy. Because there is no such thing as a purely personal act.

How many times have you heard this one: “I’m not hurting anybody! What’s the big deal?”
Have you said this before? I know I have. Even if I never say it out loud, I’ve said it to myself. It’s the ultimate rationalization.

But it’s a lie. (And it is worth mentioning that no one ever says this about the things they know are good.)

Everything you do affects the people around you and the world—not just today, but for generations to come. And not just big stuff, but everyday private acts as well. Not getting enough sleep, drinking too much, spending too much time on social media, viewing pornography, not exercising, or gossiping. These small “private” acts pick away at your character. They prevent you from being the-best-version-of-yourself. And when you are a-second-rate-version-of-yourself, it affects your spouse, kids, parents, friends, and coworkers.

Choose greatness. Choose the-best-version-of-yourself. And the world will be changed forever.

Your small, “private” decision ripples outward through time, affecting every single life it touches. It doesn’t end.

When you’re the-best-version-of-yourself, your good deeds echo through time as well. Use this chain reaction for good. Make great decisions and change the world.

What’s the scariest thing about all this? You matter.

What’s the awesome thing about all this is? YOU MATTER!

The decisions you make and the person you choose to be matter—it matters to your family and your friends and your coworkers and the entire world.

It’s not a question of what difference can you make in the world, but what difference will you make? Choose greatness. Choose the-best-version-of-yourself. And the world will be changed forever.

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