Spying a friend on the street in her cozy pajama bottoms and slippers, coffee mug in hand, as she protectively hustled her kids onto the big yellow Piedmont school bus before the winter break, I couldn't help but smile. "Cute polka dot pj's." I hollered, as I rolled my window down and poked fun (and indeed they were - cute!) "Whatever it takes," she cheerfully responded as she lifted her mug in a toast, "You do the best that you can ."
Little did she know how deeply her friendly response would resonate with me - "You do the best that you can." (That says it all - doesn't it?) Attempting one's best is as important to me in life as it is in business. The fact is that whether you are a stay-at-home mom (or a stay-at-home dad) a lawyer, a doctor OR your friendly neighborhood REALTOR for that matter (moi !) doing "the best that one can" is a prerequisite for ANY job - at any level.
I speak from experience, having worked from the bottom UP (truly). My father was a Real Estate Broker/Investor in Sacramento and from the time I was young, I learned how to clean, paint, wallpaper, garden and rent out vacant homes on the weekends - along with my four older sisters.
While others took on paper routes, my sisters and I received "rental routes" along with our drivers' licenses. Yipee! (and yes, we grumbled). Everyone was expected to pitch in (and did) with the family business and I take pride in having developed a work ethic that serves me well to this day.
Even so, I can appreciate just how difficult "doing the best that you can" is to achieve day in and day out. It's one thing to believe in good intentions and quite another to put it into one's daily practice - especially when our time seems so limited and our demands are so great. Still, I believe that "doing one's best" is a very noble endeavor as we progress, evolve and grow (even when our efforts fall well short of perfect ).
So how to translate that simple but profound message as I look ahead to 2010? To do so, I started by drawing up a list of my goals for the coming year - both personally and professionally. Happily this list gets shorter and shorter as I grow to recognize that everything I truly need, I already have: healthy kids, good friends, a happy marriage, a stimulating career, engaging clients, a supportive work environment and a caring community all top my list of what I already have. Serving my Buyers and Sellers to the best of my abilities, seeing my older son off to college, turning 50 with flair, finding more time to volunteer, more time for friends, and balancing family, community and work more selflessly are goals I would like to achieve in the coming year. In short, focusing more attention in the service of others is my vision for what lies ahead in 2010.
With your continued support, 2009 was my best professional year to date. In an economy where many struggled to hang on and many more moved on to other professions, I am truly grateful for your friendship, you trust, your faith, your referrals and your business and I hope to achieve even greater success in 2010 by supporting your success in return (there's truly enough to go around). That's one narrow definition of "doing the best that I can." (I'd love to hear yours as well).
Happy New Year! A toast to you and yours (coffee mug or champagne flute alike) and here's to an outstanding new decade.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.