Tag Archives: Best

Good is Good Enough

17 Dec

We are all, to some extent, scared of failure. But what is the worst that can happen if we fail? And do we actually exaggerate what we call ‘failure’ and what we call ‘success’?

Today I made a cake for my creative writing group. It was the first time that I’d tried the recipe and, when the cake was baked, it tasted slightly….funny. I wondered whether I should even take it to the class: “I’d be so embarrassed if my class-mates don’t like it”, I thought to myself.

Encouraged by my partner, I took my funny cake into the class despite my fears. Throughout the lesson I imagined my classmates screwing up their faces as they put the first spoonful into their mouths. I concentrated fiercely on the writing in front of me once everyone had a little slice on a plastic plate and were chewing the first pieces of prunes and oats and coconut.

“It’s a really nice cake!” my teacher said suddenly.

“Really good!” echoed my classmate, with a mouthful between her cheeks.

“Mm, I really like it”, replied someone else.

“Very original”, piped in a third person.

I was flattered by the compliments, but knew that they could have simply been polite comments. So I couldn’t believe it when my classmates asked enthusiastically for a second serving. It turned out that this funny failed cake was actually a success!

Despite having baked the cake with love and the positive thought of sharing something with people that I treasure, I was afraid that the cake would not be ‘good enough’. I was afraid that my classmates would forever remember me as an awful cook, and I preferred not to take the risk by not sharing the cake at all.

My cake wasn’t perfect, but it was good, and it brought a lot of joy and pleasure to the people with whom I shared it…and to me, too. Had I left it at home, as I had wanted to, I would have been judging my creation through my own critical eyes without even giving myself the chance to share it with others. I would have never found out that the cake was actually not that bad, and I would have been miserable for thinking that I made something rubbish.

And what if the cake had really been a failure? What is the worst that could have happened? My classmates would have finished their slices politely and left the class forgetting all about it. Not so dramatic now, is it? Not quite the end of the world that I imagined.

We often exaggerate what we call failure and what we call success. We often expect our work and our creations to be perfect, considering them failures if they are not. But ‘good’ is a success, too.

If we try our best and put our heart into something, can we even fail?

Go on, share that burnt biscuit or that unfinished poem with a friend. I assure you – they will be the happier for it.

Do Your Best Anyway

12 Sep

People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

If You Love It, Teach It!

16 Mar

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”  ~ Author Unknown

The best teacher that I have ever had stood out from all the dozens of others by one simple thing: love. This teacher loved what she taught, she loved teaching and she loved her pupils. Every time I was in her class, I felt as if that hour with her was sacred. She treated every pupil as her own child, and taught us in a way that showed us that we were just as important to her as she was to us. She truly wanted to share her knowledge with us, and to make us discover the happiness that she herself experienced through this subject. Through her honesty, openness, attention and care she did more than teach – she inspired.

In current times, it is rare to find a teacher with all of the above qualities. I have come across teachers who taught simply to make money, or because they couldn’t find another job; I have known teachers who were unqualified and unmotivated, and those who simply did not care about their students. Jacques Barzun rightly said that “teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition”. The current focus on passing exams and getting the best grades has transformed learning from a process of discovery to a process of repetition, regurgitation and memorisation. Teachers are no longer valued as our guides to self-discovery, and they are no longer respected as professionals with a wealth of knowledge.

There is never a shortage of eager students looking for the perfect teacher (all of us would love to learn one thing or another), but unfortunately, there is a shortage of eager teachers looking for the perfect student. Why is that? Because we have come to believe that being a teacher means having a qualification or a post to confirm our abilities. In fact, there is a teacher in all of us: we all have something that we love and that we would love to pass on to others. Last week-end, I taught yoga to a friend. We did a ‘proper’ class, with postures, sequences and techniques, and both of us came away happy. I am not a yoga master, nor am I trained as a yoga teacher, but yoga is something that I love, and something that I would love to pass on to others, and therefore it was a great pleasure for me to spend an evening teaching it to someone who was curious and willing to learn.

We all know how much joy it brings us to share our passion with others, and I believe that one of the best ways to do this is by teaching. Whether you love literature, singing, playing on the piano, gardening, knitting, swimming, writing, playing chess…there is someone who would love to learn from you. Whether in a formal or informal class, paid or free, with friends or strangers, regularly or irregularly, to a group or to an individual, sharing what you love is a gift. Don’t let your talents and your passions go to waste – pass them on!

If you love it, teach it!