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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Apply Yourself

I continue with my exploration of self-improvement ideas
Apply Yourself
Applying yourself means allowing yourself to effect change and make an impact wherever you are. Behind this idea is the idea that you should consider yourself a resource. It is a notion that fosters an attitude of selflessness and fights against the instinct of self-preservation that often makes us lazy and holds us back when challenges present themselves. Do not be afraid to be “exploited” or “used” by others. Allow them to use you because in the end, you benefit.

Behind “apply yourself” is the notion that the strongest iron goes through the hottest fire and the idea that what is important is not what you get from what you do, but what you become from what you do. If we allow ourselves to be challenged, we become better. If we ensure we are always in the thick of action in whatever circumstances we are operating under, we will be stretched, we will be challenged and we will become better people both in term of skills and in terms of knowledge.
We are limitless beings. But recall that whereas we can all be brave, we cannot consider ourselves brave until we have been exposed to scary situations. We can think of ourselves as tools and allow ourselves to be used. In this way, we get to know what we are capable of while we build our own capacity for greater deeds. This demands that we see every situation as exercise or as a test to find out, both for ourselves and others, what we are capable of, what hidden talents reside in is and what capabilities need improvement.
Challenge yourself. Apply yourself. Recall that if you don’t make a difference, you don’t matter so apply yourself and make a difference.
This concept can be applied at the workplace when one is supposed to work with his/her own team mates.
If you have lazy team members, instead of griping about how so and so is not pulling his weight, set upon the task with zeal and find out whether you can do the task alone for the lazy bum and for yourself. Use that as an opportunity, not as something to avoid for one day, a time will come when you will be doing it not for your employer but for yourself and when that day comes, you will be best placed if you had already developed capacity for handling such workloads.
I also used this concept when I was doing my Masters degree. We were given research work which we were required to tackle as a team. We would break down the task and assign members the tasks.
We were all working people. Some did not have internet access and after our second meeting, it was clear we would have delays. I covered everything. I did the research, typed the term paper for the entire group and prepared the PowerPoint presentations and even made the presentations. Through doing so, I learnt more, enjoyed better retention for the subject and improved my confidence in making presentations by subjecting myself to peer-review by colleagues. Remember the saying “ships in a harbor are safe but that is not what ships are made of”? Don’t park yourself in a harbor. Get up, do something. Apply yourself. Remember that change is necessary and growth is optional. Choose to grow, apply yourself. Don’t get comfortable.
So, when you are assigned a project on an area you are unfamiliar with, hit the ground running and get familiar with it! Its about having a “can do” attitude and enjoying the learning while you maximize your potential.
At any rate, when you want to avoid doing work, what do you want to do with yourself?

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