Good – Better – Best
Many years ago, I listened to a talk by my former Brigham Young University President Dallin H. Oaks titled “Good – Better – Best.
” His message resonated with me then and more so now. He noted that most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. In our many and varied roles, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.
President Oaks counseled that we should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives. He then spoke of his early growing-up years on a farm and of a particular childhood experience that introduced him to the idea that some choices are good but others are better still.
We rarely went to town. Our Christmas shopping was done in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. I spent hours poring over its pages. For the rural families of that day, catalog pages were like the shopping mall or the Internet of our time.
Something about some displays of merchandise in the catalog fixed itself in my mind. There were three degrees of quality: good, better, and best. For example, some men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).
President Oaks observed that as we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.
Over the years I have pondered this message and these important questions:
- What is the highest and best use of my time—right now, this week, this year?
- As a professor and university administrator, what activities should command priority attention for the greatest benefit and blessing of my students, faculty, and staff?
- What is the most fundamental and important work I do—at home, at the office, and beyond?
- What choices, conversations, activities, and associations will bring about the most needed and enduring benefits for me and those I love and serve?
- As a corollary to these questions, what are those investments of time and resources that yield little value; slow my progress and performance; or steal precious time, energy, or resources away from weightier matters?
The AUPHA Board, staff, and leadership team have labored diligently to focus our time and attention on those handful of actions and activities we believe will bring lasting value and benefit to our constituent members and programs. Our strategic plan addresses several of these activities, including:
- Leadership development—Developing more and better leaders who will enhance the profile and performance of our individual programs and profession;
- Teacher development – Identifying and sharing teaching best practices and establishing The AUPHA Art of Teaching Institute; and
- Articulating and promulgating our profession’s important and growing the Body of Knowledge to inform, strengthen, and improve both faculty and student performance.
Much challenge and disruption has occurred over the past 12 months. Some of our colleagues have lost loved ones. Others have lost jobs, livelihood, or health. Still others have lost a sense of peace or confidence in the future. As friends and colleagues, we’re all pulling for each other as we hope, work, and pray for improved conditions.
Amid the losses
we have experienced, there are also some things we have found. For me, these new discoveries include:
- A deeper desire to make limited facetime with friends, colleagues, and students really count!
- A deeper appreciation for the marvelous teaching and learning technologies that have enabled both a continuation and enhancement of our work!
- A deeper awareness that because of our prolonged physical distancing, most of us really do miss and need one another and
- Awareness of the need to weed out excessive busyness from my life in favor of quiet time for more reading, writing, and thoughtful reflection.
What are the better and best things that if pursued would yield greater results in your personal and professional lives? And what have you discovered from challenges of the past year that have the potential to enhance the harvest and happiness of your life? I encourage each of you to reflect on these questions and share what you have learned with others.