I spoke to a group of college students yesterday. They are in training to run our university’s orientation program this summer. It’s a challenging job for these twelve students, who are stuck with each other in close quarters for sixty hours a week or more for two months. They will welcome thousands of new students, perform before large and small audiences multiple times each day, engage in countless conversations with nervous freshmen and anxious parents, and execute the logistics of a complex program that is crucial to our institution. I ran this program for thirteen years, so I greatly appreciate the challenge and the rewards of what these students are about to do.

At the end of my meeting with them yesterday, one of them asked me, “What’s your most important advice for us to keep in mind during our experience this summer?” I proceeded to offer some rambling discourse that I can’t exactly recall now. After I left, I realized what I should have told them: “Be awesome.”

This may sound trite and obvious and unhelpful. But it’s crucial to keep that intention, to be your best and do your best, at the center of your thoughts. If you’re constantly challenging yourself to be awesome, you will keep upping your game. You will get better. You will be discontent with cutting corners and doing “just enough to get by”. And this intent to be awesome applies to every area of your life – your work, your relationships, your health.

Awesome doesn’t phone it in. Awesome is awesome even when no one is watching. Awesome cares about the details.

When I drop my kids off at school each morning, my last words to them are, “Be awesome.” When I send off our student staff members to give a campus tour, I stand by the door to the bus and tell them, just before the door closes, “Be awesome.” When my wife leaves for work: “Be awesome.”

If you make this your mantra, if you wake up every day mindfully intent to be better on this day than the one before, you will put yourself on a path to excellence and deep satisfaction in all that you do. Before you go to sleep, assess the day. How did you do? How awesome were you? Note it in your journal to keep yourself accountable. If your actions didn’t meet your expectations, don’t beat yourself up. Being aware and caring are enough, and you get a fresh try the next morning.

I love this thought from Julien Smith:

I am a champion standing over my former self.

The only competition that matters is the one between who you want to become and who you are. Comparison with others will distract or discourage and put you off course. The you of one year from now should be able to kick the ass (in overall awesomeness and, maybe, physically as well) of the you from today.

Grow. Evolve. Rethink. Refine. Transcend your current limitations. One day at a time.

Be awesome.

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