Give nothing less than your best effort

By Phil Major | Published Saturday, August 18, 2012

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Memo to all employees:

It has come to my attention, through various sources including USA Today graphics and some business management magazines and websites, that you may not always give it 100 percent all the time you’re here.

You might take personal calls or surf the Internet while you’re on the clock. There might be days here and there when you phone it in.

Just a word of advice. Now would not be a good time to show me anything less than your very best.

Phil Major

Phil Major

You see, in the course of the last couple of weeks I have witnessed some pretty amazing feats, proving what can be accomplished by the human body and mind.

I am constantly in awe of Olympic athletes. But none more so than the South African who made it to the 400-meter semifinals with two carbon fiber springs instead of legs below the knees.

I have found any arguments as to whether those prosthetics gave him an advantage to be a joke. He doesn’t have his legs below the knees, for crying out loud. Advantage? The only advantage he has is above the shoulders and in his heart. He’s overcome more obstacles than most of us will ever face.

And right in mid-Olympics came word of the landing of the latest spacecraft on Mars. An Olympian feat in its own right, the effort and execution of the planet-roving Curiosity’s relocation from a NASA lab to the fourth planet’s surface almost defies description. To imagine such a journey is inspiring. To make it happen, Wow!

OK, to be fair, what I have described are those in the very top percentile of athletes, engineers and scientists. They are among our best and brightest. They have excelled and achieved far above what many people dare to dream.

They have pushed the boundaries beyond what most have to deal with on a daily basis.

They have tapped an inner passion that few people realize, and even fewer seek to fulfill.

They have set as a target an ideal that would make most of us throw up our hands.

They have dreamed impossible dreams, and in many cases, achieved exactly that.

OK, so they probably won’t be coming around here applying for jobs. We couldn’t afford them if they did.

But what they have done is to excite us, to encourage us, to motivate us.

Our goals each day are much more modest. There aren’t any world records or gold medals, as far as I know, in the various skills involved in newspapering, or in most of the other pursuits in which we see our friends and neighbors toiling every day.

But that should not prevent us from getting up each morning, determined to do the best we can for ourselves, our co-workers and our communities.

What we do daily may not set the world on fire. But that makes it no less important, and bringing anything less than the best to the table cheats us, and those around us.

Now get back to work!

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