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My innate desire since being a small child is to be better. A better baseball player, a better student, a better friend, a better son—being better than what my parents, teachers, and anyone in authority ever expected.

Those attempts to be better worked most of the time and resulted in good repercussions when I was young. Even when, during the fifth grade, I made up my mind that I would become the Paumanok Elementary School class president in the sixth grade. And what do you know, by beating Mary Marinaro, it happened! (Not really sure if I won because I was promising my classmates that Coke would flow from the water fountains if they voted for me).

My desire to be better came to a screeching halt in my adolescent years, when I realized my nature was not to become better, but rather, it was to be worse. There was a wisp of pleasure that would sweep over me when I became worse. It was fleeting but so made sense at that point because being better was too hard, and often my attempts would fall way short.

“Give it up,” I thought, and I would stop trying to be better. What’s the use? Having no pleasure and failing at being better led me to choose the selfish, gratifying effects of being worse. I chose the latter and lived that way for many years of teenagehood.

The “worse” living did have results associated with it. Those included hurting others, rebellion, police rides home, and generally living a C grade of life. I did not see in my future ever having a desire to be better again.

Until…I met my new friend, John, at the age of twenty. He was a go-getter with an amazing work ethic and leadership abilities. People loved being around him. He brought my better game back as he spoke into my life by exemplifying the many benefits of being better. The effort to become better did not seem like climbing Mt. Everest when John modeled it to me. It was like hitting singles in baseball—it didn’t require too much effort, but I was strategic in where I placed my “hits.”

Most of my hits occurred by changing my “teammates,” the people in my life. I weeded the worse players out of my life and replaced them with those who were better. I started to hang with a “better” team. Those who had a better vision, a better attitude, a better sense of family, a better desire to succeed at work, etc.

An old adage says, “Iron sharpens iron.” Surrounding myself with a new shortstop and coach who became welders to my rusty old worse lifestyle began my new life of becoming better. These teammates said little about being better but lived out a better lifestyle.

Don’t try to hit home runs in becoming better; just aim for well-placed singles. Let other people who have a high, a better, batting average teach you how to become better. The runs will start to mount up with every better decision you make, until you look back and realize worse living was not your true calling.

Here are the ingredients you need in your life to become better:

B – Be patient; moving from worse to better will take time.

E – Every better decision gets you closer to an anti-worse lifestyle.

T – Trade out worse teammates for better ones.

T – Tell others about your single runs.

E – Each day brings new chances to become better.

R – Realize that a better story can be written about your life.

“Equip, encourage, and engage yourself to become better.”


Better is written  by Brian Buckley