Tonight, my nephew was awarded the Most Improved Player award at his school’s basketball banquet. Call me biased, but I think this is one of the most incredible awards someone can receive. Why you may ask? Some would argue that there are other awards that are more prestigious or more reputable, like Most Valuable Player. One thing is for sure, there is definitely something gratifying about being the “best”, about being the most valuable, the most needed, or wanted. But most improved… now that takes something special. It is easy when you’re weak, less experienced, less knowledgeable, etc. to give up and quit, to play the victim, or to flail in trying because you may never be the “best”. However, most improved means that you began at a certain level and worked harder for yourself and for your team to do everything you could to rise up. Hard work. Determination. Improvement. Someone took the time to recognize that you began in one place and that you made strenuous efforts to become better. It takes a certain amount of humility, integrity, and determination to truly improve; to recognize in ourselves the areas in which we are weak, and to do all that we can to get better, to put aside our ego and pride, and decide for ourselves that where we are currently isn’t where we want to be forever.
I am not going to lie and say I don’t want to be the best at something… because I do. We all do and wish we were the best at something, especially if that one thing is the thing we are most passionate about. But at what point do we really think enough will be enough and that we will finally be able to obtain MVP status? I hope it never happens. I hope I never see the day that I truly feel like I have no more room left to grow. I never want to give up striving to improve. Because in those moments, when we rest on our laurels of being the best or being “good enough”, we lose the drive. The drive to better ourselves and the world around us. For when we have lost the drive, it is not only ourselves that suffer, but everyone else that we come in contact with.
Today I am a proud aunt. Not because my nephew can dribble the ball better now than he could at the beginning of the season, but because he is a boy that is growing into a man, learning to accept criticism humbly, work harder than he ever has before, and becoming better for himself and for all those around him. Someone recognized these qualities in him. That is greater than any award anyone can receive. He is constantly growing and learning. He is also teaching me daily. And for this lesson especially I will always be grateful.